If there is one thing that sports fans love, it is the story of the underdog battling against adversity and achieving success. There is no doubt that most fans will be looking towards USA and Spain at the FIBA World Cup, but there will be plenty of other stories of team and individual triumph that are well worth celebrating.
You may not see Slovenia returning home from Spain with a medal but they have a story that will be of great interest to many fans and people around the world. This is because in Miha Zupan, Slovenia has a player that is deaf, and he will be the only deaf player participating in the tournament. Zupan has been part of the squad in friendly matches against Lithuania, Iran and Brazil, three teams that will also be taking part in the tournament. Zupan showed his class and skill in a friendly game against Canada last month when he added 9 points to the team. This means that Zupan is not selected for any reason other than merit.
This is the second FIBA World Cup for Zupan
This is the second world cup that Zupan has represented Slovenia, as he was also in the squad for the 2010 World Cup in Turkey. The team finished and Zupan was recognised as the World Deaf Athlete of the Year. This was an award presented by the International Committee of Sports For The Deaf, so it was a major body.
Zupan was born deaf, and he made his professional debut in 2006, when he played in the Slovenian national league. In 3 years, he earned a transfer to Greece and he has since played in Russia and Turkey, carving out a great career across Europe.
Many people have concerns about sports stars being used as role models because there is always a good chance that they will fall away or cause problems that children will be negatively influenced by. This is why it is important to find sports stars that can serve as a good role model for youngsters.
Zupan can be an inspiration for people around the world
Firstly, the success of Zupan is important for deaf people, especially young children. It may seem that this affliction can hold you back in life but this sort of story will hopefully help people to realise that there is no barrier to gaining success if you are willing to work hard and put the effort it. There is no doubt that Zupan has had to put up with a lot of difficulty in developing a career but appearance at the Basketball World Cup, the pinnacle of a career for many basketball players should help youngsters to know that there is no barrier to success.
There is also the fact that it will help to reinforce the fact that people, who are deaf or who have hearing issues are not any different from other people. Having players on the biggest stage of basketball who have out these issues behind them will hopefully help people to realise that there is no need to treat people any differently, even if they have issues that mean that they need certain attention or focus.
The most important thing for Zupan, his team-mates and Slovenia is that he is a highly talented basketball player with plenty of experience, which will be of considerable benefit to the squad. However, for the wider audience around the world, having a player who has battled against this condition from birth and has still managed to reach the top of his profession has to be seen as a very positive thing.