The Vikings Wheelchair Basketball team has changed my life and I don’t even play!
My son Luke is 17 years old now and he wouldn’t be the strong, confident young man that he is today if it wasn’t for his participation in wheelchair basketball. Luke has Spina Bifida and is wheelchair dependant. At the age of 5 he attended mainstream primary school and was the only child who used a wheelchair in the school. We were looking for an inclusive sports club where he could meet other children who were wheelchair users. We came across the Vikings wheelchair basketball club who’s coaches were running a mini league at the time, since then we haven’t looked back.
Suddenly Luke was surrounded by wheelchair users like himself. The only people Luke had seen in a wheelchair up until that point had been elderly people whilst out shopping with me.
This was the first time that both Luke and myself had the opportunity to meet some fantastic athletes who were going to be positive role models for him & me. After meeting the teams and their families I began to realise that Luke would grow into an independent adult driving his own car and living in his own house just like lots of the players and coaches of the Vikings.
As Luke’s mum, I was encouraged to let Luke push himself in his wheelchair and attempt transferring into his sports chair independently. This increased his confidence and determination to do more for himself which has helped his dad and I at home too. I couldn’t believe the change in him and how much he could actually do for himself. I was unravelling the cotton wool and he was loving it!
Luke has competed at national level representing the North West Region in the Lord Taverners Junior Championships under 15’s at Stoke Mandeville and u19's at Worcester. He has also played for the under 15’s Vikings team in the LT National junior league who made it through to the finals which was a massive achievement with 16 teams competing. Then his younger brother Owen also played alongside him as able bodied players can compete together in this sport which is amazing. It is great for their relationship as they can train and compete alongside each other. The training and competition is only a small part of what Luke and Owen gets out of playing wheelchair basketball, they've made lots of good friends and so have I! They played in different age groups Luke u19's and Owen u15's but they continued to support each other all the time and they still train together. Now they are able to play side by side for their junior team the Spinners! Wheelchair basketball is one of the few sports were people with physical disabilities such as Luke's can play alongside or against players without disabilities.
With Luke having played wheelchair basketball for over 10 years I thought I'd apply for a Blue Peter Sports Badge especially as he had just represented the north west at the junior championships in Worcester for the u19's. I explained that Luke inspired Owen to play years ago and they love to compete on a level playing field, attending weekly training sessions together the only sport they can do this in. When I filled in the application form I realised that Owen also inspires Luke to compete and gives him tips and hints on how to improve his game so I made it a joint application. They both received their blue peter sports badge 2016 and they're made up!! They can also get into over 200 attractions free of charge, bonus!!
Sue is one of the Vikings coaches who has been a fantastic mentor to Luke in his wheelchair basketball journey. Sue is extremely passionate about wheelchair basketball and shows true dedication coaching voluntarily since I’ve known her!! She is a true inspiration and I’m very proud to call her my friend. All the coaches give up so much to help players of all ages and that's what makes the club a special club to be a member of.
The Vikings wheelchair basketball club and development team is in our blood, family each and every one of them.