MORE WARWICKSHIRE children will have the opportunity to shoot hoops after a wheelchair basketball club secured a fundraising boost from a regional grant-giving charity.
Based in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire Bears is on a quest to find the next generation of Paralympians after a £2,800 donation from the Heart of England Community Foundation allowed them to purchase a new wheelchair specifically for junior players.
Established in 2003 by Tom Masterson and Mark Butler, the club has 40 regular players as well as a newly formed women’s team.
Teams include members as young as eight-years-old through to 65 – as well as two former Paralympians, skier Anna Turney and swimmer Mark Butler.
Now, as part of its aim to engage more young players and develop a junior team, the club is fundraising for the costs of new junior sized wheelchairs.
The grant, which was secured through the Heart of England Fund and Coventry Building Society Community Fund, has funded one of three purchases so far.
Tom said: “Although there are plenty of sports clubs within the region, wheelchair basketball is one of the only team sports which is truly inclusive and available to all.
“Many of our players were previously sporty before their accidents and naturally want to keep active.
“Wheelchair basketball is a great way of staying involved in sports – although we welcome able-bodied players too.
“The club offers a great opportunity for players to keep active, learn new skills and make new friends, and these opportunities are never more important than for young people, which is why we have been trying to develop a junior league team.
“In order to do this however, we need to ensure players have suitable sized wheelchairs to help them compete in matches.
“Each wheelchair costs around £3,000 so any donations are welcomed with players entirely grateful.”
The grant isn’t the first time the wheelchair basketball side has received support from the Heart of England Community Foundation.
The club has also received funding for new kits and other equipment in the past.
Tina Costello, director at the Heart of England Community Foundation said: “Warwickshire Bears is a fantastic club which is heavily involved within Coventry and Warwickshire, providing sporting opportunities for any age, level and ability.
“Tom has been playing for more than 30 years meaning players learn from the best but also get to enjoy a camaraderie as part of a team.
“The Foundation is therefore delighted to support what is demonstrably a valued community resource by funding the costs of a new wheelchair.”
Visit www.bearswbc.com to find out more about the Warwickshire Bears and how you can get involved.