Youngsters from the Midlands enjoyed a memorable day in Birmingham as wheelchair basketball star Robyn Love attended a Paralympic inclusion event at Queen Alexandra College.
As part of Parasport’s Tokyo 2020 Games-time activation, inclusive taster sessions were hosted at Parasport clubs around the country to celebrate clubs and volunteers, reduce isolation for disability sport through participation and focus on wellbeing following the challenges created by Covid.
Love, 31, finished seventh in Japan alongside her British teammates after taking fourth at Rio 2016 and hopes to see a surge of interest in parasport after the delayed Paralympic Games.
“We need to really build on the momentum that we got from Tokyo and just get as many people involved in parasport as possible,” said Love, who was fast-tracked into the Great Britain set-up after just a year in the sport.
“I just love trying something new and meeting new people. Parasport is a great opportunity to do that whether you have a disability or not.
“I was actually inspired by the London 2012 Games, even though I’d grown up with my disability and played non-disabled sports. I was just excited by this great thing I can participate in and be on a level playing field with my teammates.
“Sport is something that everyone can do together. It isn’t dictated by who you are and where you are from; everyone can get involved.”
At the home of Birmingham Wheelchair Basketball in Harborne, participants had the chance to try out basketball but also badminton and table tennis.
Natalie Child, 30, moved to the area from Newcastle and getting involved in a range of parasports helped her settle in and make friends within the community.
“I’ve had a go at everything and the one thing that I’ve found across all of the sports is the inclusivity and that there’s a level playing field,” she said.
“You can grow as a person as you go through sport and it’s a great environment to meet people and socialise.”
University of Birmingham physics student Nichola Charlton, 19, was at only her second session and said: “I was watching the Paralympics and I really enjoyed the wheelchair basketball, so I went on to the website to see what was about and then I came down.
“I absolutely love it, the teamwork side of it is so much fun. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure about it at first but it’s such a great sport with so many different skills and so many people you can meet.
“I would tell people to go for it!”
Wheelchair user Humzah Mudhir, 15, loves the inclusivity of basketball after starting aged 12 and said: “Everyone can play and a lot of disabled people don’t get involved in sport because they don’t have the access so it’s really helpful to have people going to them to prompt them to get involved.”
Stephen Daly originally played the sport at school and is now taking his first steps into coaching.
“It is really rewarding to give back in the same way that people did this for me when I was growing up and it was really fun and really engaging and it showed me that even though I am disabled I can still do things,” said the 25-year-old.
Daly was brought in by his former teaching assistant and Birmingham head coach Andy Craddock, 53, who has been coaching for 11 years and revealed it was an honour to help bring people together again after the pandemic.
“It is a pleasure to support Parasport, they do an amazing job and when you get in a chair and play wheelchair basketball people forget about their disabilities and just play sport,” he said.
Parasport powered by Toyota have been hosting inclusive taster sessions at Parasport clubs around the country, to highlight their stories and celebrate their members and volunteers contribution to inclusive sport in the community. For more information please visit www.parasport.org.uk