Varsity 2016 Preview: Wheelchair basketball eye opening day victory

Wheelchair basketball team 2015-16
Wheelchair basketball team 2015-16

Wheelchair Basketball is getting pretty big at Trent. The university was at the first ever university championships in which we came away with a silver medal, back in 2014. Its popularity is growing year on year and the sport and is one of the three matches on the opening day of varsity. Platform spoke to the President of NTU Wheelchair Basketball, Jack Waring, to find out his thoughts on varsity and this year’s season.

“The mood in the camp is pretty chilled at the moment,” says Jack who has just come back from the Uni Championships. “We’re all dead excited for the Varsity games, especially getting to play at the Arena and giving UoN a good game.

“NTU are far more set up as a team that UoN so far, with the sport only really being a big part of the University programme for a few years. “

Trent has had the upper hand in the fixture having not lost a game to their arch rivals in over three years, so confidence is pretty high in the team.

Kicking off with a bang

As you probably know by now, Basketball will be the sport kicking off the varsity series this year over at the newly named Motorpoint Arena on April 22. There are few things bigger on the varsity calendar than opening night and at the arena, in-front of the pink army, Jack and his team are relishing their chance in the spotlight.

“It’s huge for Wheelchair basketball that we’re helping kick off the 2016 series, it means we can have quite a huge showcase with a lot of coverage, which will be huge for us and hopefully secure a few players for next year that enjoy watching the sport.

“If people find out more about the sport and enjoy it, then they’ll be encouraged to come and play, which would be incredible for the team next year.”

Full Varsity fixtures are available here

Preparation for the big varsity game though hasn’t been ideal. After defeating Worchester in the final of the Uni Championships last year NTU crashed out of the tournament quite early on, in their pool group.  But for Jack performance isn’t everything and there were plenty of positives to take out of the season.

President of the Wheelchair Basketball team Jack Waring
President of the Wheelchair Basketball team Jack Waring

“We’ve had great success in growing the team and making the club far more established, but our actual performance on court hasn’t gone as expected. It’s all part of the learning curve as a society and team.”

The disappointing championships will only act as an incentive though for Trent’s wheelchair team who are aiming to end the academic year on a high. As focus now turns from the season a victory in varsity is now a must.

A varsity win for me, means I can say honestly, that our team is still strong and that we still want to be the best Uni team in the country.

The Paralympic legacy

The London 2012 Paralympic Games did so much good for disabled sport in the UK. The year following the games there was a 25% increase across the country in the sport.

Trent and other universities formed their own wheelchair basketball teams and the University Championships were established in 2014 and have gone onto be big successes. NTU won a silver medal at the first event and, as previously mentioned, went onto to win the whole thing in 2015.

The Paralympics has done great things for the sport but for Jack it’s that next level of exposure that will help other people take notice in the sport he loves.

“The Paralympics have undoubtedly helped the sport in terms of coverage and people finding out exactly what disability sport is, though I think to achieve more coverage, there has to be regular coverage on disability sport, which hasn’t been achieved yet.”

A Sport for all

What makes wheelchair basketball stand out from other sports is its inclusiveness across a wide range of different backgrounds. It’s a rare sport in which both men and women take to the court together, regardless of whether they have a disability or not.

Since the team’s inception back in 2013 Trent’s squad has always been made up of different genders and abilities and it’s this inclusiveness that Jack is very the president is very proud of.

“The best thing about wheelchair basketball is that anyone can play it. I think it’s an incredibly inclusive sport, that makes for some extremely close teams who all share common goals and aspirations for the sport.”

Wheelchair Basketball sessions are held every Friday from 5pm -6pm at the Lee Westwood Centre in Clifton.

For more information about NTU Wheelchair basketball check out their Facebook page here.

James Bavin