Prior to National Lottery support, the Knights Wheelchair Basketball club in Antrim Forum was flourishing. It was doing well in the Great Britain League and taking part in plenty of tournaments. However, because it lacked a junior section, it couldn’t respond to requests from parents for their children to join. So the club treasurer, Aubrey Bingham, set up a junior club and with a National Lottery grant was able to buy specially adapted wheelchairs for them.
Now, new young people have joined; youngsters whose physical disabilities had prevented them from taking part in any sport before. And, Aubrey is very proud of the junior club he’s established.
“I can see a difference in so many of the kids,” he says. “They’re so much more outgoing than when they started, and they have new skills. Their parents are so proud.”
As well as opening up a disability sport to a new generation, the club lays the foundations for young people to become involved in other activities. It widens their horizons by enabling them to achieve success in other areas of their lives.
Cameron Campbell, 15, and Jack Agnew, 12, both joined the Knights Wheelchair Basketball Club in 2007.
Both boys were born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and have been in wheelchairs since they were very young. Yet, with the support of the club, they have developed into excellent basketball players, and have been able to participate in competitive matches in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.
The impact that Lottery funding has had on the Knights club has been passed onto players such as Cameron and Jack. Club secretary, Gerard Campbell, explains: “The boys have been able to make friends right across the British Isles and are a testimony to the resilience, hard work and positive spirit that the people from Northern Ireland possess.”
He adds: “They’ve overcome their own difficulties regarding their disabilities, to develop into well rounded, confident and charming young men.
“Disabled sport has given them both the opportunity to demonstrate what they can do, and to show society that there is more to them than the wheelchair itself. In facing the challenges that lie ahead for them, Cameron and Jack will be much better prepared for life and employment as a result of the experiences that they have gained through wheelchair basketball.”
For more information visit www.niknightswbc.co.uk
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