25th Jun, 2022

Preparations already underway as Coventry Wheelchair Basketball Academy promoted to Premier League

WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL: COVENTRY Wheelchair Basketball Academy are preparing for their biggest ever season after being promoted to the British Wheelchair Basketball Premier League.

The academy became the first ever team in Coventry and Warwickshire to secure a place in the country’s most prestigious wheelchair basketball league after hard-working efforts to improve the team’s youth system paid off.

Nine years ago, a committee meeting planned out the academy’s future.

With the aim of increasing the number of youngsters playing wheelchair basketball in the region and improving results in the first team, the meeting proved to be the catalyst in transforming what is now one of Coventry’s most successful teams.

And the success story continued last weekend when CWBA took three teams to compete in the British Wheelchair Basketball National Championship Finals in Worcester.

After some tough preliminary matches CWBA had teams in the Finals of the Division 2, Division 1 and Womens League Division 1.

The academy’s Division Two and Womens Teams both became national champions while the first team claimed silver after narrowly losing out to Tees Valley Titans in the Division One final.

Speaking to The Observer, head coach Paul Claridge said the academy’s improving results have occurred following hours of hard work dedicated to improving junior players.

He said: “I started with the club 24 years ago when Coventry Wheelchair Basketball Academy was a college club.

“We’ve managed to build it over the years after setting out a junior plan eight years ago.

“We started with a few kids and now have six National League teams – and the kids we’ve developed are now playing for Team GB which is excellent.”

The young and talented first team completed the domestic season unbeaten and topped their respective table – confirming automatic promotion to the National Premier League.

Now home to GB players including Rio Paralympians Charlotte Moore and Joy Haizelden, the academy will next season face some of the toughest teams in the country.

Claridge said: “Next season will be tough as we’ll be coming up against teams which are playing at a higher level and compete in the top tier only.

“Opposition teams have been in the Premier League for years, whereas we have teams competing at every level.”

By being in the Premier League, CWBA will join elite clubs in the UK – including Oldham Owls, London Titans, Sheffield Steelers, Essex Outlaws, Leeds Spiders, and Shropshire Warriors.

However the academy won’t forget about its youth roots.

Budding wheelchair basketball players’ will continue to train on Thursday evenings while the academy will field several other teams in regional leagues.

Claridge said: “We support people at all levels and we have families that come and play with us for fun.

“Some youngsters that play are just six years old, the kids are so involved and it’s great.

“We have sessions on Thursday evenings which people can get involved with or just come along to watch.

“We welcome new players all year round – and with one million disabled people in the UK we should be able to attract more players.”

CWBA train at Woodlands School on Broad Lane in Coventry and welcome new players all year round.

Visit www.cwba.info for further information about fixtures, results, and upcoming training sessions.

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