Six teams of SportsAid supporters gathered at London’s Copper Box this month for a wheelchair basketball tournament hosted by British Wheelchair Basketball and Paralympians Ann Wild and Ade Adepitan.
Ann competed for Great Britain at the 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Paralympics and described some of the battles she witnessed during the matches as “epic”.
“The whole point of these days is to make sure everyone has a good time and has good exposure to the sport that they wouldn’t necessarily had exposure to in the past,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun to referee and to be part of some of the teaching.”
Ade Adepitan also helped to coach the teams, who came from BNY Mellon, CGI, GLL, Hogarth, MyLotto24 and Sport England. He said afterwards, “Today’s been awesome. One of the most surprising things for people is when they watch it on TV is it looks quite easy, and as soon as they get in a wheelchair they realise how difficult it is and the level of fitness you need in order to play the game.
“But most importantly – they’re all having a laugh,” added the Paralympic bronze medallist. “They are all having a laugh and you can see the competitive side coming out. They’ve swapped their desktops for some wheelchairs and basketballs – we might just make athletes out of them one day!”
At the end of a hotly-contested final the trophy was lifted by the team from Hogarth, a marketing implementation agency which recently built a new nomination system that is streamlining SportsAid’s work. The runners-up were from GLL, another long-standing partner of SportsAid, which this year increased its commitment to the charity by funding 86 young athletes as part of its GLL Sport Foundation. The foundation’s chairman is Peter Bundey.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever played,” he said, “and it’s a real eye opener to see the skills and tactics involved that you don’t appreciate when you watch it. It’s also great to meet some of the young athletes who are being helped through SportsAid.”
Those athletes included four of the country’s best up-and-coming wheelchair basketball players – Christy Gregan (SportsAid Award from Caesars Entertainment), Charles Fryer-Stevens (MyLotto24), Gregg Warburton (Elton John Sports Fund) and Jim Palmer (Prudential) – all of whom won gold medals while representing Great Britain at last year’s U22 European Championships in Spain.
“All in all, its been a fantastic day,” Peter added. “I thoroughly recommend it as a sport,”.
Scott Stevens from BNY Mellon Investment Management EMEA agreed, saying, “It’s been an absolutely fantastic experience from my perspective. There is nothing like actually doing something to really appreciate how hard and tough it is. It is such a physical event. The other aspect is that it has been a great team-building activity.”