Posted by: Sai | August 19, 2011

Basketball: Then til Now

I got into playing wheelchair basketball without really thinking about it. I was dating Ally, back when were at university, and volunteered to help him practice some basketball 1 on 1. A little while later I went along to watch him train with the rest of the team and ended up joining in during the second half of the session. I had no idea what the rules were but I really enjoyed it, and they asked if I wanted to join in the following week as well. Back then I was thinking nothing of the pain in my feet, I certainly wasn’t worried that it would affect my running in any way, so basketball was a way of spending time with Ally.

A few months later, at the start of the basketball season, the problem with my feet had become more apparent, though I was still running for the first month or so. I joined the basketball team as an able-bodied player, though there were two other AB players, so time on the court was limited. Training was also difficult due to problems with venues and lack of players turning up. The club was still very small and we trained in less than 50% of the sessions due to cancellation. I still enjoyed the year of playing, had even invested in my own basketball chair, and I brought home the Players Player award at the end of the season.

By half way through the season I knew that the problem in my feet was serious. Doctors hadn’t got anywhere, and basketball slowly took over from running, both physically and psychologically. Stopping running was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and it took me long time not to get angry every time I saw someone running in the street. If I hadn’t had another sport to get immersed in, I’m sure it would have been a lot harder.

The season finished, though Ally had been invited to a training session with another club, as they hadn’t stopped for the summer yet. After a couple of weeks I went along as well, and found them to be a brilliantly friendly group of people, and a club large enough to actually have a 5 on 5 training session, something we hadn’t been able to do before. I learnt a lot over the course of just a couple of weeks, and eventually Ally and I were invited to sign up for the following season. This was a big decision for me and certainly not one that was taken lightly, but in the end I had to be a little selfish and do what was best for me. This is how I ended up playing for Coventry.

Over the course of the year I improved massively. I played in both the first team (3rd division) and the second (development division). I applied for classification under ‘minimal disability’ but was it was declined as the permanence of my disability couldn’t be verified. I was told to wait until 3 years after the onset of my symptoms and re-apply.

I joined the West Midlands Allstars Women’s team as well, playing 3 tournament days over the course of the season. There are only 2 divisions for women’s league, and we placed 2nd in the 2nd division.

We finished the season on a high. The first team had won the league in 3rd Division Central and we all went off to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield for the national playoffs. We played against the winners of 3rd North and 3rd South, winning one game and losing another. On the second day we collected our trophies for 2nd place. I also had the chance to watch some high quality basketball, with the division winners of the Women’s League and the Super League.

This year I’m signing up again with Coventry, who will be entering 3 teams in 3 divisions. I’ve been named in the second team, but should still have the odd chance to play in the first team. I’ve also been invited to play for Sussex Tigers, who are entering a women’s team into the league. I won’t have much of a chance to train with them but it should be interesting. More updates to come as they happen.

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