Swindon wheelchair basketball team finds a new home

[This is Wiltshire] Swindon wheelchair basketball team finds a new home

A WHEELCHAIR basketball team has found a new home after the school where it used to practice was taken over by a housing development.

Swindon Shock spent more than decade at the Youth First Centre Oakfield Project in Greenbridge before the school closed ahead of the construction of Nationwide's new property scheme.

So the team's leader, Paralympian and former New College student Ben Fox, approached the college's sports facilities manager Dan Thorley to see if a venue could be found for weekly training sessions.

Now the team hopes to help transform the New College Sports Centre into a disabled sports academy offering a range of training and taster sessions.

Ben won a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics and is determined to raise the profile and accessibility of parasport in Swindon and Wiltshire.

He said: "There are very few parasport clubs in the area and no sports halls that are accessible for people with disabilities.

"As a former New College student, I think it would be great if we could work with the curriculum to get current sport students trying out the different sports and getting involved with the coaching and conditioning side of things.

"A lot of money is spent on the nutrition and health of individuals with disabilities, rather than directing funds and support into effective ways to address and prevent those problems in the first place.

"Investing in facilities and resources for parasports, is a great way to tackle this issue while providing a fun and inclusive place for people with disabilities to thrive.”

Soccer and Sporting Excellence Academy has offered to sponsor the team and provide coaching support, and a New College gym member will move the wheelchairs between their storage area and set up before and after the training sessions.

Swindon’s Mayor Coun Abdul Amin and South Swindon Parish Council have provided a funding grant to help restart the wheelchair basketball sessions at New College.

The team will provide staff and students with the opportunity to gain a recognised basketball coaching qualification

Dan Thorley said: "Ben has inspired so many people through his achievements on the court but it’s his willingness to give his time and voice to championing this cause which is going to have a lasting impact in our local community.

"When Ben reached out to discuss his vision, I knew this was a project that we had to get on board with. It really aligns with the College’s mission, to provide opportunities for personal and professional development to everyone, regardless of background or circumstances.”

Ben is donating his framed playing jersey from Tokyo to the college and will donate a sports trophy to be awarded yearly to a student who has shown great determination, commitment and sporting excellence.

Club chairman Ben Humphrey said: "I am so pleased the club is back training and local people now have the chance to play wheelchair basketball again.

"It’s been a tough couple of years with Covid and our venue closing. The energy that Ben Fox has brought to the project and the support that all at New College has given has been invaluable.

"We’re proud to announce that ex-student Wes Newman has recently completed his Level 2 qualification and is stepping up to coach the weekly sessions. It feels like our family has found a new home.”

To volunteer or support the Swindon Shock Wheelchair Basketball team, or get involved in the development of the Disability Sport Hub, please contact Ben Humphrey at shockwheelchair@outlook.com or visit www.swindonshock.com/wheelchair