Aspiring wheelchair basketballers learn from best in the business

Friday, 15 December 2017

Players from the Be Active Perth Wheelcats and Western Stars wheelchair basketball teams showed aspiring players the tricks of the trade at a special open day at the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre on Sunday, December 3.

Close to 30 people of all ages and abilities learnt skills from a number of professional, accomplished players at the Wheelchair Basketball come and try day.

With the hope of introducing a wheelchair basketball program in Mandurah in the future, the day included skill clinics, drills, mini games and a showcase match with mixed teams of Wheelcats players and Mandurah Magics State Basketball League players.

The event was organised by the Sport and Recreation (WA) division of the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and supported by the City of Mandurah.

Five Be Active Wheelcats and Western Stars players, including world champions and paralympic gold and silver medallists, imparted their knowledge and skills on the day. They included Shaun Norris, Michael Hartnett, Kayl Jefferys, Thomas McHugh and Amber Merritt. Wheelcats coach Mark Utley and City of Mandurah Chief Executive Officer and former state-level basketball player Mark Newman also attended.

The idea for the event was conceptualised about two years ago when a young athlete from Mandurah regularly travelled to Mirrabooka to play wheelchair basketball as there was no local competition.

Since then the Mandurah Basketball Association, Sport and Recreation (WA), Disability Services, Rebound WA, Basketball WA and the City have been working together to bring this event about, gauging interest in an eight- to 10-week pilot program in the future that could lead to a regular competition.

Mayor Rhys Williams said it was great that around 70 community members came along to the come and try day, and encouraged anyone interested in wheelchair basketball to get in contact with the City.

“Wheelchair basketball is an inclusive sport and we encourage all members of the community to join in,” he said.

“The open day with the Perth Wheelcats was a great success, and we thank the players for coming along and teaching aspiring players some great skills. We hope this event will lead to a regular local competition for wheelchair basketball players.”