Professional basketballer Chloe Tugliach is inspired by athletes that don’t let their disabilities prevent them from competing at an elite level.
The University of Canberra Capitals development player has thrown her support behind the Boomerangs, Australia’s National Men’s basketball team for Players with an Intellectual Disabilities (PWID), who are gearing up to compete at the Virtus Global Games in France in June.
Chloe is mentoring players and helping to coach the national team, which includes two Canberrans, James Doyle and Justin Koenig, who was last month awarded The Australian Sports Medal to commemorate his achievements at the INAS Global Games in 2019 and his contribution to Australia’s sporting success.
After signing on with the Caps this year for her first Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season, Chloe also hopes to use her high-profile position to raise funds for the Boomerangs and increase support for athletes with intellectual and physical disabilities.
She says while athletes with disabilities train hard and have an incredible drive to succeed in their chosen sport, funding is often a barrier, especially for those just starting out.
“I have a cousin with an intellectual and physical disability who wasn’t able to continue playing netball when she was young because of the financial burden, among other things,” Chloe says.
“From a young age, these sportspeople – and their families – have to work so much harder to get there.”
Chloe has worked with athletes with disabilities for a few years in various roles. She says her new position gives her a chance to wave their flag.
“It’s great if professional athletes can champion these people that are excelling in their sport,” she adds.
“Just because they have an intellectual disability or impairment doesn’t mean they’re any less of an elite athlete.
“I want to use my platform through the Caps to lift up those that don’t necessarily have that platform.”
The Boomerangs will compete in Vichy, France, from 4 to 10 June 2023 in what has become the pinnacle global sporting event for athletes with intellectual impairment. It is conducted every four years in the year preceding the Paralympics which, in 2024, will be held in Paris.
The last Global Games were held in 2019, with the Boomerangs taking home silver. They recently returned from the Oceanic Games in Brisbane, where they won gold.
Chloe says while the sport often flies under the public radar, she is blown away by the fast pace of the action.
“Being involved in the program with the Boomerangs this year and seeing them play in Japan in November has been incredible,” she says.
“Watching these elite athletes excelling and how hard they have to work makes me appreciate my position in basketball even more.
“I’ve worked with and coached people with disabilities for a while, and spectators are often surprised by the high energy and high pace of the games. But the thing you always notice is the emotion because they all just love playing basketball.
“I would encourage people to go and see a game in Canberra. The games might look a little different to able-bodied persons’ game, but the athletes are incredible.
“We support our Opals and all our international athletes, and it’s just as important to support those with disabilities who are doing amazing things and representing their county.”
The current Boomerangs team is made up of experienced and new players jumping at the opportunity to compete internationally post-COVID.
Chloe Tugliach joined the Caps after impressing Head Coach Kristen Veal at the Development Player and Futures Day held in September 2022.
She moved to the ACT in 2016 to play for the Canberra Nationals and, following a brief break from the game, she returned to the NBL1 in April last year.
The UC Capitals will hold a raffle at their games to support the Boomerangs, and Chloe hopes a Gofundme page will raise $50,000 for the team. The UC Capitals’ next game is on Saturday (18 February) at the National Convention Centre. Tickets from Ticketek.