Tokyo 2020

National Lottery-funded scheme courts new wheelchair basketball players

The impact of a National Lottery-funded initiative in raising the profile of wheelchair basketball and encouraging more people to give it a go has been praised by Sally Munday, the CEO of UK Sport.

The sport has been in the spotlight thanks to the ParalympicsGB women’s team who made it to the quarter-finals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. The men’s team (at time of press) had reached the semi-finals with a 66-52 win over Canada.

Wheelchair basketball looks set to go from strength to strength thanks, in part, to a programme designed to get more people on the court across the UK. The Inspire a Generation programme – an initiative by British Wheelchair Basketball – is supported by £1.5Million of funding made possible by National Lottery players.

On the morning of the women’s quarter finals in Tokyo, The National Lottery and UK Sport staged an event at Channel 4’s headquarters in Leeds showcasing the benefits of the sport. It featured members of the Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair Basketball Club, where ParalympicsGB athletes Sophie Carrigill and Harry Brown started their careers.

Players showed off their skills and Channel 4 presenters Steph McGovern and Arthur Williams had a go, showcasing the sport’s inclusivity.

Sally Munday said, “One of the brilliant things about Paralympic sport is that the athletes are so incredible they make it look easy. What British Wheelchair Basketball has done with this Inspire a Generation programme is just genius. It allows people who have seen the sport on TV to connect with a place locally where they can pick up a ball and have a go.

“I’m not a wheelchair user but I’ve come here today and I’ve been given a chair to use, shown how to use it, given the basics of wheeling, manoeuvring, and bouncing the ball. And this is the great thing: you’ve got non-disabled people playing along with those with disabilities.”

The event was also an opportunity to thank National Lottery players for playing their part in ParalympicsGB’s success and in supporting grassroots sport.

Sally said, “National Lottery players are incredibly important for British sport from the grassroots to the elite. Every single person that plays The National Lottery can feel part of the success that we are seeing out in Tokyo.”

Jo Richards, British Wheelchair Basketball Participation Director, said: “Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and the lack of activity and participation opportunities. So, we really have tried to maximise what is happening with the Paralympics this year to make sure that everybody is aware that they can go and sign up to their local Inspire a Generation wheelchair basketball session.”

Anna Jackson, retired ParalympicsGB wheelchair basketball player and coach said, “I think it’s really important we’ve got so much more coverage of it now. People can see the different players, different disabilities and different backgrounds and maybe think ‘I could do that’.”

National Lottery players’ support of ParalympicsGB athletes and grassroots wheelchair basketball clubs and initiatives is vital. If you’ve been inspired by ParalympicsGB athletes, visit www.parasport.org.uk to discover an inclusive community sport opportunity near you, or to find your nearest Inspire a Generation Wheelchair Basketball session visit www.inspireageneration.com.

2nd September 2021

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