Women's Premier League

WPL Round-up: 7th May

Loughborough Lightning finish the season 9/9 after an exciting final match against visitors Worcester Wolves.

Loughborough Lightning 60 – 35 Worcester Wolves

After what appeared to initially be a strong start by Lightning, Wolves got momentum going on their game making plenty of shots and working hard in defense to dominate the second quarter gaining a 6-point lead. Wolves headed into the second half to face a rejuvenated Lightning side, with the home team landing shots and decisive technical manoeuvres across the court to regain the lead and extend it to 25-points in the final quarter.

For Lightning, Robyn Love was game leader on points with 15 points followed by Lucy Robinson with 15 and Laurie Williams with 11 points. Love was Lightning’s top performer on rebounds with 13 rebounds, followed by Robinson with 4 rebounds and Williams with 3 rebounds. On assists, Love was game leader with 12, followed by Williams with 8. Three Lightning players had 3 steals each: Love, Williams, and Jude Hamer.

For Worcester, Sarah Hope and Kayla Bell were joint team top performers on points with 10 points each, followed by Jade Loughlin with 5 points. Hope was game leader on rebounds with 16 rebounds, followed by teammate Ellan Fraser with 5 rebounds and J Loughlin with 4 rebounds. J Loughlin was Wolves top performer on assists with 6 assists, followed by teammate Hope with 2 assists. Amber Loughlin, Ellan Fraser and Kayli English each had 1 assist.

All four WPL teams head into the National Championship Finals 2022, taking place at UEL SportsDock 14th/15th May.

The semi-finals take place Saturday 14th, beginning 9:00 and will be livestreamed on the BWB YouTube. The final will take place Sunday 15th at 15:15 and will be broadcast live on the BBC Sport digital channels. Full schedule: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/2022/05/tickets-and-schedule-for-national-championship-finals-2021-22/

WPL Round-up: 30th April

East London Phoenix end their regular season on a high, and Worcester Wolves headed to Loughborough for the first of two away fixtures against Lightning.

East London Phoenix 75 – 46 Cardiff Met Archers

Home team Phoenix got the game underway with a strong team performance from the start, spurred on by the addition of Fi Tillman in her first appearance for the side this season. Phoenix notably had two three-pointers during the game from Beth Wheeler. This was the final regular season game for both teams, who now turn their attention to the playoffs at the National Championship Finals 14/15th May. Phoenix and Archers are guaranteed to play each other in the semi-final.

For Phoenix, Beth Wheeler was game leader on points with 28 points, followed by Amy Conroy with 22 points and Alice McHaffie with 11 points. On rebounds, Amy Conroy was game leader with 9 rebounds, followed by Beth Wheeler and Alice McHaffie with 8 each. Amy Conroy was top performer for Phoenix on assists with 5 assists, closely followed by teammate Freya Levy with 4 assists.

For Archers, Leah Evans was top performer the Cardiff side on points with 14 points, followed closely by Anastasia Blease with 12 points and Jade Atkin with 10 points. Blease and J. Atkin were tied on top performer for Archers on rebounds with 7 rebounds each, followed by Maddie Martin with 4 rebounds. Martin was game leader on assists with 6 assists, followed by Blease with 3 assist and Evans with 2 assists.

Loughborough Lightning 67 – 37 Worcester Wolves

Wolves were defeated in the first of two back-to-back away games against Lightning. After their final regular season game on the 7th May, both teams will be heading to the National Championship Finals for their match-up in the playoffs as they are guaranteed to play against each other in the semi-final.

For Lightning, Lucy Robinson was game leader on points with 23 points, closely followed by teammate Robyn Love with 22 points. On rebounds, Love was Lightning’s top performer with 11 rebounds, followed by teammate Robinson with 6 rebounds and Laurie Williams with 5 rebounds. Love was game leader on assists with 14 assists, followed by Williams with 9 assists.

For Wolves, Jade Loughlin was team top performer on points with 10 points, followed by Sarah Hope with 8 points, and Amber Loughlin and Ellan Fraser with 6 points each. Hope was game leader on rebounds with 15 rebounds, with Jessica Dowdeswell second top performer for Wolves with 4 rebounds. J. Loughlin was Wolves top performer on assists with 5 assists, followed by Hope with 3 assists.

The Women’s Premier League final will be broadcast live on BBC Sport as part of the National Championship Finals coverage. The final will take place 15th May at 15:15.

Tickets and schedule for National Championship Finals 2021/22!

Taking place 14th – 15th May at the UEL SportsDock, the National Championship Finals will crown the 2021-2022 champions across the Junior League, Women’s Premier League, and all divisions of the National League including the prestigious Premier Division.

All National League divisions including the Women’s Premier League first compete in semi-finals, then advance to either the final or a 3rd/4th place playoff. This will be the first ever Championship final for the Women’s Premier League, marking the end to an exciting inaugural season of this ground-breaking league.

Wakefield Whirlwinds and Thames Valley Kings placed top of the bracket at the Junior League Elite 8’s competition in April to earn their place in the Junior League Final, which takes place Saturday evening.

BBC Sport will be broadcasting the Junior League final, the Women’s Premier League final, and the National League Premier Division Final. All matches on Court One across both days will be livestreamed on the BWB YouTube channel.

Ticket for this event are free – book yours here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-championship-finals-2022-tickets-325601993327

National Championships Finals 2022 Schedule day one:

TimeCourt OneCourt TwoCourt Three
9:00Women’s Premier League – Semi-final 1
East London Phoenix v Cardiff Met Archers
Division 2 – Semi-final 1
Wakefield Whirlwinds v Plymouth Fusion
Division 2 – Semi-final 2
Sussex Bears v Lothian Phoenix
11:00Women’s Premier League – Semi-final 2
Loughborough Lightning v Worcester Wolves
Division 3 – Semi-final 1
Mohawks v Thames Valley Kings
Division 3 – Semi-final 1
Sheffield Steelers v Brixton Ballers
13:00Premier Division – Semi-final 1
London Titans v Mohawks
Division 2 – 3rd/4th PlaceDivision 1 – Semi-final 2
The Bears v Sheffield Steelers
15:00Premier Division – Semi-final 2
Sheffield Steelers v CWBA
Division 1 – Semi-final 1
Mohawks v London Titans
Division 3 – 3rd/4th Place
17:15Junior League – Final
Wakefield Whirlwinds v Thames Valley Kings

National Championships Finals 2022 Schedule day two:

TimeCourt OneCourt Two / Three
9:00Division 3 – FinalWomen’s Premier League – 3rd/4th
11:00Division 2 – FinalPremier Division – 3rd/4th
13:00Division 1 – FinalDivision 1 – 3rd/4th
15:15Women’s Premier League – Final
17:30Premier Division – Final
Updated: 11/05/2022

Update 10/05/2022:

Information regarding National Championship Finals tickets:

Players / team staff:
Please speak to your team managers who have received the full event pack today which contains all information about the event and venue.

Tickets are only being ‘sold’ for Court One. You do not need a ticket to enter Court Two or Court Three, though please note that venue capacity may be reached at some points in the day which will be at the discretion of venue staff. If the courts reach capacity, there is a café and seating area as you enter the venue.

Court One tickets do not allocate specific seats and we expect there to be peaks and troughs throughout the three courts across the two days as the fixtures progress.

Venue information can be found via the UEL SportsDock website, including contact information for venue staff.
SportsDock venue website: https://www.uel.ac.uk/study/student-life/sport/sportsdock
SportsDock venue contact: https://www.uel.ac.uk/study/student-life/sport/sportsdock/contact-us

WPL Round-up: 9th April

A close match in Cardiff ends in victory for the Archers, and Lightning make a statement with a 24-point lead at the final buzzer.

Cardiff Met Archers 35 – 32 Worcester Wolves

Worcester Wolves travelled to Cardiff Met Archers, fresh off the back of their first win in the WPL having beaten East London Phoenix the weekend previous. After a steady first half, the Archers came out of the half-time break with renewed vigour and seemed unstoppable in Q3, building a 17-point lead. Wolves met the challenge, giving a huge performance to recover lost ground in Q4 by bringing the score near-level from the 17-deficit. Archers held off the Wolves offense, winning 35:32 in front of their home crowd.

Leah Evans (Archers) was game leader on points with 16 points. Jade Atkin was second top performer for Archers with 8 points, followed by teammate Anastasia Blease with 7 points.

Blease was game leader on rebounds with 16 rebounds, with J. Atkin second top performer for Archers with 7 rebounds. Maddie Martin and Fran Antoniazzi tie for third on Archers top performers with 4 rebounds each. Blease was top performer for Archers on assists with 2 assists.

For Wolves, there was a three-way tie on top points with Jade Loughlin, Sarah Hope, and Ellan Fraser all getting 10 points each.

On rebounds, Hope had 14 rebounds, followed by Ellan Fraser with 13 rebounds – a double-double for both players. Kayla Bell was third top performer for Wolves with 7 rebounds. Hope was game leader on assists with 4 assists.

Loughborough Lightning 66 – 42 East London Phoenix

Lightning made a statement on Saturday at home with a 24-point victory over visitors East London Phoenix. After an exchange of game leadership in the first quarter and into the second, Lightning switched on in Q2 and lit up the scoreboard with a flurry of impressive shots. Phoenix worked to regain momentum as the deficit grew, chipping away at the home team’s defense where they could. At the final buzzer, Lightning took the win and continued their perfect streak – 7/7.

Lucy Robinson (Lightning) was game leader on points with 21 points, with teammate Robyn Love as second top performer for Lightning with 16 points. Laurie Williams and Siobhan Fitzpatrick tied for third top performer for Lightning on points with 10 points each.

Love was game leader on rebounds with 16 rebounds. Williams was second top performer for Lightning with 10 rebounds, followed by Niamh Horan with 7 rebounds.

Williams was game leader on assists with 12 assists, followed by Love with 9 assists.

Bethany Wheeler was top performer for Phoenix on points with 18 points, followed by Amy Conroy with 11 points and Alice McHaffie with 9 points.

Wheeler had 14 rebounds, making her top performer for Phoenix on rebounds, followed by Amy Conroy with 10 rebounds, and joint third top performer was Curran Brown and McHaffie with 5 rebounds each. Wheeler was top performer for Phoenix on assists with 6 assists.

BWB WPL Fixtures and Results: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/competition/womens-premier-league-2021-22/

BWB WPL Fanzone: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/womens-premier-league/

WPL Round-up: 2nd/3rd April

Photo credit: Purple Swan Photography

Worcester Wolves celebrated their first win of the season, and Loughborough Lightning’s winning streak continues.

Loughborough Lightning 65 – 39 Cardiff Met Archers

Lightning added another W to their perfect record this season so far with a home game victory over visitors Cardiff Met Archers.

Robyn Love (Lightning) was game leader on points with 24 points, followed closely by teammate Lucy Robinson with 23 points. Love was game leader on rebounds with 15 rebounds, with Laurie Williams and Robinson joint second on total rebounds for Lightning with 6 each.

Williams was game leader on assists with 10 assists, followed by teammate Love who had 7 assists.

For Cardiff Met Archers, Jade Atkin was top performer for the Archers on points with 17 points, followed by Anastasia Blease with 14 points and Maddie Martin with 4 points.

Blease was top performer for Archers on rebounds with 11, followed by Jade Atkin with 8 rebounds. Adele Atkin and Katie Morrow were joint third top performers on rebounds for Archers with 4 rebounds each.

Maddie Martin was top performer for Archers on assists with 4 assists, followed by Blease and Phillips who each had 1 assist.

Worcester Wolves 49 – 43 East London Phoenix

After an exciting match against East London Phoenix, Worcester Wolves celebrated their first win of the season. Following a rocky first quarter, Wolves came back from a 5-point deficit with determination and kept ahead of visitors Phoenix for the rest of the game. In the early stages of the fourth quarter, home team Wolves had an 11-point lead over Phoenix.

Jade Loughlin (Wolves) was top performer for the Worcester side on points with 13 points, followed by Sarah Hope with 12 points and joint third was Ellan Fraser and Kayla Bell with 10 each.

Hope and J. Loughlin were tied team top performers on rebounds with 10 rebounds each, with Bell close behind with 8 rebounds.

Another tie for team top performer for Hope and J. Loughlin who both got 6 assists each, joint game leaders on assists, followed by Kayli English with 3 assists.

Amy Conroy (Phoenix) was game leader on points with 25 points. Alice McHaffie was second top performer for Phoenix on points with 10 points, followed by Emily Branthwaite with 6 points.

Conroy was overall top performer on rebounds with 13 rebounds, with McHaffie as second top performer for Phoenix with 8 rebounds and Curran Brown with 5 rebounds.

Freya Levy (Phoenix) was top performer for Phoenix on assists with 4 assists, followed by McHaffie with 3 assists.

BWB WPL Fixtures and Results: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/competition/womens-premier-league-2021-22/

BWB WPL Fanzone: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/womens-premier-league/

Women’s Premier League Round-up: 19th March

Cardiff Met Archers 63:43 East London Phoenix

Home team Cardiff Met Archers were unrelenting in their energetic offensive plays against visitors East London Phoenix and won the match 63:43.

Amy Conroy (Phoenix) was match leader on points with 30 points, and top performer for East London Phoenix on assists with 4 assists, followed by teammate Freya Levy with 3 assists. Conroy was top performer for East London Phoenix on rebounds with 10 rebounds, followed by Curran Brown with 9 rebounds and Freya Levy with 8 rebounds.

Katie Morrow (Archers) was top performer for Archers on points with 25 points, followed by Jade Atkin with 16 points and Leah Evans with 8 points. Jade Atkin (Archers) was game leader on rebounds with 16 rebounds. Archers teammate Katie Morrow had 8 rebounds. Maddie Martin (Archers) and Jade Atkin (Archers) were tied on game leader on assists with 5 assists each.

Conroy currently holds the highest average points per game with an average of 25.5 points per game, followed closely by Robyn Love (Loughborough Lightning) with 19.8 per game and Lucy Robinson (Lightning) with 17.2 per game.

Our next BWB Women’s Premier League games are both live on BBC Sport, with Loughborough Lightning hosting Cardiff Met Archers on 2nd April and Worcester Wolves welcoming East London Phoenix on 3rd March.

BWB WPL Fixtures and Results: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/competition/womens-premier-league-2021-22/

BWB WPL Fanzone: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/womens-premier-league/

IWD2022: Q&A with GB legend Caroline Matthews MBE

In honour of International Women’s Day 2022, Caroline Matthews MBE reflects on the changes within women’s wheelchair basketball. Caroline has no shortage of experience, having dedicated a decade of her life to representing Great Britain in which she earned an impressive 125 caps and attended two Paralympic Games (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008).

Outside of her duties on the court wearing the GB vest, Caroline has given a huge amount of her time and effort over the years into developing the women’s game within Wales and on the international stage. Caroline changed the landscape of the sport within Wales and co-founded Cardiff Celts (now Archers), and has held several coaching roles in both national and international capacities.

Recently you were part of the commentary team for a BWB Women’s Premier League match – how was that experience for you?

I loved it! You kind of get used to certain levels of nerves on a daily basis – work nerves, player nerves, coaching nerves…and I re-discovered a whole new type of nerves – commentator nerves! But I love chatting through and analysing basketball games, and it was a real privilege to be able to do this in my home town of Cardiff.

The BWB Women’s Premier League is a gamechanger for both the women’s game at home and internationally. Do you have a sense of pride in your personal involvement towards the growth of the women’s game?

I played wheelchair basketball for Great Britain for ten years (2001-2011). I worked full time as a lawyer throughout my time as an international basketballer, so it was like having two full time jobs. It was hard and we all sacrificed a lot. When I started to play wheelchair basketball there wasn’t a team in Wales – my first team was in Bristol and I soon moved to a national league team based in London. The MILES that I put on my cars were staggering!

But I just love this game (always have and always will!) it was all a million percent worth it. It gave (and continues to give) me so much, so many opportunities I would never have had if I hadn’t taken that plunge and gone to my first wheelchair basketball session – and I’m always looking for ways to give back to the sport that has given me so much.

The WPL is an enormous step forward for wheelchair basketball and, in particular, women’s wheelchair basketball, in the UK and I am thrilled to see one of the teams based in Cardiff. Twenty years ago there was no wheelchair basketball in Cardiff – and now we have one of the four WPL teams in the UK… imagine what will come next! I am very excited to see the growth of the WPL.

How has the sport changed since you first started playing, focusing on the women’s game in particular?

Wheelchair basketball has changed enormously since I began. When I started to play there wasn’t a separate Women’s League – we all played as part of the (predominantly male) National League teams – using a size 7 ball and often having to play different roles to, in some cases, work around the men in the team. The first Women’s League in the UK started in 2005 – and I remember holding a size 6 ball for the first time! The league gave the women’s wheelchair basketball players around the UK the opportunity to play only against other women (prior to that, this was available at international level). In that league (which is still thriving today), women played a full role on court – and were never just on the court “for points reasons”. It was great fun – and we all learned a lot. After a few years, Women’s League had enough teams to run in two divisions – and now we have the WPL! I’m very excited to see how WPL develops.

Funding is a huge part of the changes to the Women’s League that has come through. When I started playing, there was simply no funding. The GB team trained one weekend a month and we covered our own expenses…but we all had such passion for the game and it is great to see where that has led the sport today.

Compared to where the sport was when we started, the teams in the WPL today enable more athletes to better structure their lives around training, which will inevitably increase the standard of women’s wheelchair basketball in the UK.

I really can’t wait to see where the WPL league will go. Being able to build these teams around Universities offers athletes (from the UK and abroad) the opportunity to go to university, study (for your future) and train with the best support and coaches available at that location.

The WPL is such an incredible opportunity – I only wish I was twenty years younger!

Do you think the overall perception and awareness of the sport has changed since you started?

I think disability sport has always had a positive effect on people’s perceptions. When my knees became so severely degraded with arthritis that I could no longer play the running game of basketball – at the time, I didn’t know anything about disability sport generally or wheelchair basketball. I wasn’t aware that it existed and when it was suggested to me, as I wasn’t a full time wheelchair user, I didn’t think I would be able to play.

Eventually, I got up the strength to go to my first wheelchair basketball session and I was soon racing around the court in a chair – grinning from ear to ear and loving every minute of it. I was instantly hooked!

I think that there is now greater media coverage of disability sport – which can only serve to raise awareness of the opportunities available to people with any level of disability. From my perspective, it can only help the whole of society for everyone to realise what an individual CAN do…instead of focusing on limitations.

What advice would you offer to the future stars beginning their journey in the sport?

Give it a go! That’s all there is to it.

For anyone sitting on their sofa thinking, I’d like to have a go at wheelchair basketball (or any sporting activity) – you’ve got nothing to lose – so give it a go!

When I went to my first wheelchair basketball session in Bristol I had no idea where my basketball journey would take me (and continue to take me). I’ve never looked back – it was one of the best decisions of my life!

IWD2022: Women in coaching, a spotlight on WPL Head Coach Rosie Williams

Photo credit: Carl Robertson

To commemorate and celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, we spoke to Cardiff Met Archers Head Coach Rosie Williams. Rosie shares her own personal journey into coaching, as well as discussing how the programme at Archers is about more than just the scoreboard.

Archers compete in the BWB Women’s Premier League, the first of its kind in women’s wheelchair basketball, and are certainly making an impact in the inaugural season. Rosie shares head coach duties with Tom Guntrip, and have proved a successful partnership in the development of one of four foundation teams within the league.

Rosie’s role makes her the first female coach in the Women’s Premier League, etching her name into the legacy of the league and paving the way for the future generations of women in coaching as a role model.

From a young age, Rosie was heavily interested in sports from the word go and got involved in just about everything she could. When Rosie was introduced to wheelchair basketball, she was immediately hooked.

“I fell in love with it because it was a sport you weren’t good at straight away. If you’re sporty in school you’d kind of be at the top of the class in PE, and for the first time I was bottom of the group. It was a really exciting prospect that I was put in a situation where I could really learn about something. That was my background in participating and then I went on to coaching pretty quickly because I was so obsessed with learning about the game. I’d just fallen in love with it. It was the first time in my life I could be a nerd about something and truly geek out about it!”

“At school I had to get some volunteering hours and I started volunteering at the development sessions, and became the leader and started leading that group.”

The transition from participating, to volunteering, to coaching was a natural progression for Rosie as her skills developed. From leading those initial development sessions to now coaching a High Performance team in the highest level of domestic competition in women’s wheelchair basketball, Rosie’s journey into her current role at Archers has been built on a foundation of dedication and sacrifices.

“When I played for my local football team aged eight, I would bring in session plans for my coach and I would like this is how you should do your game plan and I would write game plans out… so I have always been obsessed with the coaching side of sport, but I didn’t realise what it was or what I was doing because I was too young.”

“At the time, my club didn’t have a Women’s League team or a Junior League team. I’d go away and play for any team that would have me. As a 15 year old I was travelling the country, going to Nottingham where the women’s league was based. The GB Women’s head coach at the time had heard about what I was doing and had heard that I was also interested in being a coach. So he said that if I ever needed any support or help he’d be more than willing to help me because he’d seen the graft I was putting in as a kid and I took him up on it.”

“Between the ages of 16 to 18, I started travelling to Worcester, again, independently, sometimes there and back in a day on the train for ten hours for a single session so I could learn, observe and be a part of the programme. I was learning from Haj at the time as well, shadowing some of his sessions.”

“In my first year at university I became the assistant coach for Division 1 Coyotes Team which was the GB women’s team that played in the National League at the time. Initially I had played in one game and they said that I should assist in coaching. They would rotate me with the head coach and I’d assist them. I’d also started taking the lead on some performance analysis as we had nothing at the time.

“At the end of my first year they invited me to sit on the bench at Continental Clash with the seniors and I had started to be team manager for the under-25s group, so I was able to be around more performance groups. After that, I coached at Coventry, I coached for Wales, and in 2019 I was assistant coach for the Invictus Games. Now I also work with Wales Women, so lots of different and interesting groups.”

With International Women’s Day 2022 in view, Rosie reflected on the people who have empowered her to achieve her goals or have provided a source of inspiration in her sports coaching journey.

“When I was playing in the Women’s League, I had a match against London Titans and their coach Ann Wild, and immediately I just loved what she she did. The players felt so cared for and understood, even if they were sat on the bench and instantly I knew I just wanted to play for her because I wanted to learn. I wanted to be amongst it. I wanted to see what she was doing and why people were so captivated by what she was doing. It was an amazing year learning from her. And still, I stay in contact with her because anyone who has had an interaction with her just wants to have another one, and I think that that’s an amazing quality. I don’t particularly remember what she did, but I do remember how she made me feel – she made me feel seen and cared for, and that I could fulfill my potential.”

“I played for Wales U19 so played against Scotland quite a lot, and seeing Tina Gordon from Scotland on the other side was again a moment where you saw a woman amongst a group of male coaches not be fearful of being tenacious, and being verbal and expressive. That then taught me again that I didn’t have to be in my box. I think that she was just someone else who stood out to me because she went against the grain of what I perceived being a woman in coaching was.”

“Alongside that, I would watch international sport and would see the likes of Steph Wheeler from the USA. Steph leads a successful program at Illinois where people again want to be. She’s so passionate. You looked down the bench and see all the USA players holding hands at 2016 Rio like they felt a part of something. As the leader of that group, she was the person they looked at to go wow, we’ve got something really special here. What is it that she’s done and why has it been so special? I think more recently they’ve pushed against the grain and demanded more female coaches amongst the team which again, was led from the front from her and I’ve always looked to her and seen her as being a leader.”

Alongside women in sport who have directly inspired her journey, Rosie also cited allyship from male coaches as being vital in her development: “I also want to give a special mention to Mike Hayes at North Wales, because that’s a male coach that has not only given a voice to female players and female coaches, but has put his ego aside to let me mentor him after being his player so many years – not all coaches would do that. He really encourages players’ input in the women’s game – he embodies all the values that we want to see from a male coach in the women’s game. He cares about making those young women leaders and giving them ownership of their development.”

Moving her attention back onto the Women’s Premier League, Rosie reflects on how it feels to be a founding member of the league.

Rosie Williams coaching
BWB / SA Images

“It’s a privilege and an honour that we’re able to give people an opportunity to thrive in a genuine and authentic person-centred programme where they’re able to express themselves, and naturally that has had a knock-on effect in their ability to play basketball and their ability to trust each other. We aim to encourage our players to go out of their comfort zone, whether it’s on or off the basketball court.”

“We have athletes that come a day early to camp so they can coach an Inspire a Generation session and they’ve never coached before joining us. They are doing that because part of their recruitment was us asking “What can we do for your personal and professional development?” We really care about ‘the other stuff’.”

“We’ve got another player who hadn’t ever been a table official, and at the weekend they table officiated a WBBL game. Basketball is a medium in which we can give them access to opportunities and give them an amazing life experiences. It just feels amazing that we can give people an opportunity to do these things in a place where they feel safe.”

The Archers WPL side features several players who made their first international appearances as GB Juniors, combined with players who are relatively new to the sport. Across the league, this mix of experience means that players and coaches involved in the WPL can benefit from playing with, or against, senior players with years of experience, including GB Women’s athletes.

“I think for the players there’s an opportunity to grow, learn, develop by playing against the [GB Women] but it also gives them a platform to show what they can do because it’s hard to break the mould, right? These girls have a chance to each week go out there and show them what they can do and show that age isn’t a barrier. For example, I’m the only female coach but also the youngest coach in the league, so I’m embodying what I am trying to make the players do. It’s putting me outside my comfort zone, it’s putting the players outside their comfort zone by giving them roles that they’re not normally used to due to lack of opportunity outside the WPL.”

“In this team they get the opportunity to be a leader – to be a passionate leader, a quiet leader – whatever leadership looks like to them, they get to be that. We give them a chance to define themselves as a basketball player so they don’t have come in and be the next anybody. They get to be the player they want to be. They’re not parts of a machine, they’re not being coached to be robots – they’re being coached to be decision makers that can really lead by example. Everybody can bring something and I think that’s what is really exciting about our group because they know that is what I genuinely believe in.”

“They have dedicated so much time to the programme – it’s our duty to give them the skills to deal with life beyond sport through the medium of basketball. I guess I’m so passionate about that because I’m a Performance Lifestyle practitioner too and that’s what’s so unique about our programme. We have two head coaches that have experience beyond coaching basketball, so therefore we naturally just encourage them to do that too.”

The passion the coaching duo at Archers have for the development of their athletes and volunteers is far-reaching, Rosie concludes: “The players get to write their next chapter. It’s not going to be the game results, it’s going to be about what that group can do together, for each other for the social change they are creating together. I think it’s such a powerful tool that they have everybody on a mission to succeed in a way that they want to succeed.”

Each of the four teams in the Women’s Premier League are based at High Performance Partnerships (HPP), which are centres of excellence for wheelchair basketball within the UK. Reflecting on what impact these HPPs are having, Rosie particularly notes the development opportunities with the HPPs:

“The impact that the HPPs are having joins a movement that we’re seeing in football, in rugby, where the movement isn’t about sport, it’s not about a specific sport, it’s about women in sport getting opportunities. I think that the HPP has given a platform to disabled women and it’s an additional part of the movement where there’s real opportunity for change.”

“At Cardiff Met Archers, we’re investing in every part of the game. We’re not just invested in the WPL – we are invested in our BUCS programme, in our community programme, into the ‘Inspire a Generation’ programme, into our National League teams. We’re invested in making this a hub for wheelchair basketball, no matter what level you are you will get an experience you will enjoy.”

“At our first camp we had rugby players coming to that session and helping deliver the S&C. We’ve started to build relations with other societies of the the university – we’re not just seen as an isolated wheelchair basketball group. We have a thriving community and system that is really enabling people to make friends and connections, and I think it’s just an amazing opportunity to study and play. That play can be recreational or it can be elite.”

“Over the next year, we are going to focus on what we can do for Cardiff as a community as well. Already, we’re having primary schools and disability professionals email us, and we’re also motivating our athletes to make an impact in their local communities outside of Cardiff.”

Returning the spotlight to Rosie, the motivated and dedicated coach outlined her personal aspirations for the future: “Initially and immediately with Cardiff Met Archers I want to develop a programme where athletes deem success as more than just the result on a basketball court – that’s my immediate goal. Beyond that, I’m keen to break the mould and become a coach in the GB system. I love what I’ve done as team manager. I love that I’ve got to the World Championships and European championships and beyond. I’ve got to learn so much but I’m really ready for the next level. Beyond women’s basketball, again on breaking the mould, I want to coach a men’s team because I think it’s really important to do so.”

Find out more about the BWB Women’s Premier League: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/womens-premier-league/

Find out more about Inspire a Generation: https://inspireageneration.com/

Find out more about the High Performance Partnerships: https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/high-performance-par/