Champions: Inclusion and fun show power of basketball as Woody Harrelson film launched

Basketball came together to help launch the new Hollywood movie Champions in Manchester.

Special Olympics Great Britain athletes from clubs in Greater Manchester, Sheffield and Derbyshire recently celebrated the launch of the new basketball comedy film, starring Woody Harrelson, by showcasing their skills on court at the National Basketball Performance Centre.

Basketball England, Special Olympics Great Britain and Disability Opportunities in Sport UK (DOSportUK) teamed up with the film's producers Universal Pictures as more than 40 Special Olympics GB athletes played at the home of domestic basketball alongside Team England Commonwealth 3x3 basketball gold medallist and Cheshire Phoenix player Jamell Anderson.

See below for a gallery of images from the event.

Released last Friday in the UK, Champions sees Harrelson star in a hilarious and heart-warming story of a former minor-league basketball coach who, after a series of missteps, is ordered by the court to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities.

The of the film will also leave a legacy for the Manchester community with Universal partnering with Basketball England's #Projectwish initiative to renovate a well-used outdoor court in the city's Platt Fields Park.

Basketball England Head of Participation Pete Griffiths said:

“We are extremely excited to be working with Universal and grateful for its generosity in wanting to leave a basketball legacy because of Champions.

“The film depicts the inclusive nature of the sport and what it means to people who play it. The common denominators across all formats of the game – whether running, wheelchair or learning disability basketball – are friendship, personal development, a sense of belonging and fitness benefits and we’re glad a global brand and a Hollywood personality in Harrelson want to bring that to life with our help and through #ProjectSwish.

“Platt Fields Park is one of the most popular outdoor courts among players in Manchester. But despite the popularity, the condition of the equipment and surface are dilapidated. The legacy of this film means a reenergised, good-looking space for every basketball player to work on their game and have fun.”

Champions Producer Paul Brooks said:

“Champions is a celebration of inclusivity and accessibility within sport. We are thrilled that this sentiment will be honoured at Platt Field’s Park for years to come.



Adi Fawcett, Head of Sport at Special Olympics GB, said:

“The launch of Champions has come at a fantastic time for the Special Olympics movement around the world with more than 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities gathering in Berlin 2023 in June to participate at the Special Olympics World Games.

“We’re committed to using the power of sport to make a difference to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and we’re very excited to be working with England Basketball and developing the partnership to support our athletes. It’s great that the film can really highlight just how transformational the work of Special Olympics can be.”

Jacob,  Team Special Olympics GB Head Coach for Berlin 2023 and Director of DOSportUK, said:

“We are super-excited at the release of Champions and to showcase the wonderful work that we do in partnership with Basketball England and Special Olympics GB.

“Basketball for people with an intellectual disability does not get much media coverage and we hope that this movie from Universal can help put people with an intellectual disability into the limelight and offer people an insight into the benefits of basketball on the groups we work with.”

Champions launch gallery

Refresh if the gallery does not initially display below.