Coach Feriani feels effects of pandemic as Team Canada prepares for Tokyo

Canada striving for gold in the upcoming Paralympics

Coach Mateo Feriani, Team Canada wheelchair basketball
Matteo Feriani gets into a crouch while coaching Canada at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Peru. Courtesy Wheelchair Basketball Canada

Veteran coach Matteo Feriani believes the amateur sport that is wheelchair basketball has taken a bigger hit than professional sports during the pandemic.

Team Canada has not trained together in months and the lack of opportunity will hurt the players mentally going into the Paralympics in Tokyo this summer.

Feriani compares his program to that of the National Basketball Association.

“We are not a professional sport,” Feriani said. “I went to the NBA and also spoke with some NBA coaches during the pandemic, they have the ability with the big house, with the big basket in the backyard, with the gym inside, and the clubs.”

“They have all this material that we don’t have.”

Money for training can be an issue because wheelchair players do not have the financial advantages of their professional counterparts. They are part of the national carding system in Canada, that provides money based on individual and team success.

“Our salary is three zeros less than an NBA player,” says Feriani. “Some of them didn’t get even any money. So, we cannot expect anything.”

As it stands, the men’s national team has the ability to practice 5 on 5 but at a limited capacity due to travel restrictions and social distancing regulations. 

In addition, some players are not available because they have families and cannot afford to be away from home for as long as the two-week self-isolation laws require. With many of his players un-paid, Feriani contends that he cannot expect sizeable commitments from his players. 

“It’s more of a mental, than a physical challenge.”

A lack of opportunity to plan has also been an issue as nobody is ever sure of what will happen next with the virus. In this case, the expectation is for players to use the free time as wisely as possible in order to mentally prepare.

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Posted: Mar 15 2021 7:59 pm
Filed under: Amateur Sports Tokyo Paralympics Wheelchair Basketball