This morning (Thursday 20 May), community participants hit Finsbury Park’s outdoor basketball courts to take part in British Wheelchair Basketball’s very first Inspire a Generation wheelchair basketball session.
Marking a hugely significant moment for the sport, the event, which was attended by HRH The Countess of Wessex, British Wheelchair Basketball’s Royal Patron, signalled the official rollout of the Inspire a Generation community led six-week wheelchair basketball courses. The sessions are now available for public sign-up via www.inspireageneration.com.
The new ground-breaking £1.525m programme (funded by National Lottery and Sport England), which was announced in January, aims to welcome new participants to the sport, through enabling community delivery of wheelchair basketball in fun and informal settings.
The five-year programme recruited its first cohort of 48 Community Activators, across 17 different delivery partners in March 2021. These trained IAG Community Activators will deliver Inspire a Generation wheelchair basketball courses for communities within nine different regions across England.
The second round of Community Activator recruitment will open shortly, with new waves of community IAG courses available across England throughout the next five years.
As the sport continues its Return to Play roadmap for grassroots wheelchair basketball across England, the launch of the public recruitment campaign for the Inspire a Generation programme could not come at a more important time.
Through welcoming new players and workforce into the sport, the NGB hopes that a longer-term outcome of the programme will be to help transition a new generation of wheelchair basketball participants into its club network. These individuals will be central to helping support sustained active lifestyles, as well as supporting the clubs to return, rebuild and recover post COVID-19.
Lisa Pearce, Chief Executive at British Wheelchair Basketball, said:
“Never has there been a more important time to provide new inclusive, fun and informal sporting opportunities for the public. Through the Inspire a Generation programme we hope to help build sustained positive physical activity habits for all of its participants.
“The Inspire a Generation taster sessions will be vital in helping support disabled participants find or return to physical activity, many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Inspire a Generation, we’ve developed a brand new approach for the sport at community level and I cannot wait to see how the programme develops.”
Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director for Tackling Inactivity, said:
“The work of Inspire a Generation will be key in helping those who struggle to be active the most to access appropriate opportunities in their local community, and it is brilliant to see the programme come to life beginning with the very first session today.
“With thanks to the National Lottery for their support and funding, we look forward to working with British Wheelchair Basketball to help Inspire a Generation reach as many people as possible.”
Great Britain Women’s Wheelchair Basketball player, Joy Haizelden, said:
“Today is a hugely exciting moment for wheelchair basketball and a really positive move to get more people playing the game we all love. I don’t know where I’d be without wheelchair basketball and I hope that through the Inspire a Generation sessions, more people can try the sport and experience the happiness it has brought me.”
To find out where your nearest sessions are, or to become a Community Activator, visit www.inspireageneration.com.