Los Topos and their collection against the clock to play in the Basketball World Cup for the Deaf

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The sixth edition of Basketball world cup for the deaf It will be held from 13 to 24 June in Heraklion, a city on the island of Crete. Sixteen teams will compete for the men’s title, which the United States will defend. Argentina earned their place in the tournament by being crowned runners-up at the Pan American in Buenos Airesin November of last year. But participation in the competition of “The Moles”, as the sport’s Lazio team is known, is in danger. Is that the national team is fighting against time to raise the money needed for travel and accommodation. And less than a month into the competition – and with inflation continuing to grow – he’s still not sure he’ll be able to get on the plane to Greece. Don’t lose hope though.

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“The mood is always positive. Trying to stay focused on concentrations, but not forgetting that we have to raise the money. We’ve never really been able to train and play without thinking about the economy,” he acknowledged. Marco Raffinthe captain and most experienced of the team, in a chat with clarion.

“Faith is the last thing to lose. Hopefully a person with a big heart will come along and say ‘I’ve come to help you cover your expenses and I’m coming with you’. We’d be happier than a dog with two tails!” she added, not losing her humor at the difficult scenario.

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The team that has to travel to Greece on 10 June is made up of 20 people. THE Secretary of Sport of the Nation has provided them with 18 tickets from Buenos Aires to Athens, which are already booked. From the Argentine Basketball Federation for the Deaf (FABS) must find the funds to pay for the other two tickets for that trip, plus the 20 round trip between the Greek capital and the host city and what is necessary for the stay.

How much money do they need to travel? “Today, about five million”explained Adrian ReynosoFABS President. “The most expensive are the tickets, not so much the stay. One part is covered by two sponsors, who give us money. And we were collecting donations and lotteries to complete it. But a month ago a plane ticket cost 980,000 pesos, today it’s 1,400 .000. It’s incredible.”

Reynoso told the reason for this complicated reality. FABS is an entity dedicated to promoting basketball among the deaf community and is recognized by the International Federation of Basketball for the Deafin turn associated with International Sports Committee for the Deaf, in charge of the Deaflympics (those of 2025 will be in Tokyo and Los Topos has already obtained the quota). But since this discipline is not part of the Paralympic or Parapan-American program, it is not the responsibility of the International Paralympic Committee or the Argentine one. For this reason, its players do not have the possibility of receiving scholarships from ENARD. Nor is it associated with the Argentine Basketball Confederation.

“For many years we tried to unite, but they ignored us. They asked us to make a basic basketball textbook for the deaf. We worked on it for months, but they didn’t even thank us. They never received us or helped us, even less with an away trip. We are deaf, but basketball players after all. I feel that the CABB is not inclusive,” explained the president of FABS.

They therefore depend on the contribution of the Department of Sport and on some private company that helps them, even if obtaining a sponsor of this type is a difficult task.

“It is nearly impossible to get a sponsor to cash in on the trip right now the country is going through. Although we see some big companies sponsoring millionaire athletes, while with the 10 percent they spend on them they can comfortably promote amateur sports, but there is no they give balls,” said Reynoso. “Here we continue to gain weight after weight and we don’t know if Argentina, fifth in the world rankings and great animator in all tournaments, will not go to a World Cup for the first time”.

"Los Topos" is due to travel to Greece on 10 June.  fabulous photos

“Los Topos” is due to travel to Greece on 10 June. fabulous photos

Paying for travel out-of-pocket isn’t feasible for the players, who, for the most part, don’t make a living from basketball. Of the 12 players who will travel to the World Cup, only two are professional players, i.e. they get paid to play. One of them is Joachim FaberCórdoba, 25, striker and who was discovered with lateral hearing loss at 4 years old.

“Today basketball is my economic support, I have a contract and they pay me to play. But at my level you can’t make a living from basketball because the salary is low. And when I’m clubless, I have to look for another job.”, she said, that in 2022 she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Logistics and this year she obtained the Data Analyst certificate.

“Now that I have a degree and continue to add academic tools and more training, the accessibility to work is greater, even if it’s never easy,” continued the man who will play his third World Cup in Greece, after Taipei 2015 AND Lublin 2019. “If I had the ‘Disability’ Athlete Scholarship, maybe I could more easily pay for sports expenses, gym, shoes or workout clothes, and hearing aid fees.”

Raffin, a 39-year-old from Santa Fe, has several jobs in addition to basketball. “I work as an LSA (Argentine Sign Language) instructor, I am president of the SAN VAL cooperative, founded by deaf people and the first in Argentina, where there are 25 people with this disability. I am also a member of the board of directors of the civil association “Hands Talk”Together with my wife, I founded an early stimulation center for deaf children and now we will open a café, where deaf people will work,” he listed.

Originally from Reconquista, Raffin has 20% hearing from birth. And he hopes to play in his third and last World Cup.

Among other team members -from the provinces of Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Riogia, Santa Fe, jump, Catamarca AND Formosa– There’s also a chef, an industrial engineer, a nurse, and a couple of students and teachers.

“We’re raffling off some T-shirts, going door to door and some end up pulling them out of their pockets,” Raffin said. And he said they also tried to contact, without success, Santiago Marateathe influencer who took charge of the collection to save Independiente.

“Everyone asks us to talk to him, they throw him away on our networks, we write to him but nothing…”, assured Reynoso.

Although the first deaf basketball team was formed in the 1950s, “Los Topos”, the best team in the history of the sport in Argentina, was formed in 2011 and already has a second-place South American and two Pan-American championships. . He also took fifth place in the Samsun DeaflympicsTürkiye, of 2017, and in that of Southern Caxias, Brazil, in 2021. And he finished sixth at the 2019 World Cup, despite traveling at the last minute, because just nine days before the tournament they got a company to take care of the travel. Today, less than a month after the event in Greece, he finds himself in a similar situation. But he keeps dreaming.

How to help?

Those who want to collaborate with Los Topos and their World Cup dream can contact [email protected] or call 2215471128. And to make a donation, you can deposit it into the Banco Nación account, under the alias “FABSARGENTINA”.

Source: Clarin

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