Opportunities for learning disability basketball continue to grow

Special Olympics Great Britain Competition and Development Manager Rachael Crack has told Basketball England that opportunities for people to play learning disability basketball are growing each year.

Her comments came at the first event of a brand-new Special Olympics GB (SOGB) Basketball Series, which started on the 11 November at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester.

There’s now between five and six regions which offer the sport and we’re looking to increase that,” said Crack.

“The reason athletes play is to compete, and to have opportunities like [the SOGB Basketball Series] is why they play the sport, so it’s great to see.” 

A collaboration between SOGB and Disability Opportunities in Sport UK (DOSportUK), who offer sport and physical activity sessions to people with a disability and run a network of basketball clubs across Derbyshire and Greater Manchester, the first instalment of the Series saw Special Olympics athletes from the East and West Midlands, London, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber descend on Manchester for a day of competition.

Director of DOSportUK Jacob Meaton says these types of events are about promoting the game and letting people with a learning disability know there’s opportunities for them to play basketball.

“People with a learning disability don’t always have the same opportunities that everyone else does growing up,” said Meaton.

“Coming to these basketball sessions can be the highlight of their week. Not just the physical, side of basketball but socially, getting out the house and being physically active is just huge for them. 

“We have been speaking to Basketball England about the possibility of a performance pathway as well because some of these guys can really play and we want them to push themselves as far as they can go.” 
“I think it’s so important for Basketball England to be involved,” said Basketball England’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager Alfred Nelson

“We’re all trying to grow the game and make it accessible for everyone and this event has been a great example of that. 

“A lot of people have said that they have found it a friendly and welcoming environment and I think events like these will attract more people to the sport.” 

Super Cities Team vs Team Midlands

In the showpiece match up, teams from the three cities of London, Manchester and Sheffield were amalgamated to form one super team against athletes from the East and West Midlands.

The two-match series ended with both teams tasting victory, leaving the match-up one-a-piece.

Results from Division A saw the East Midlands take gold, with silver and bronze going to London and the North West, respectively.

In Division B, team London were able to go one getter and win the gold. The West Midlands were runners up, Yorkshire took bronze, East Midlands finished fourth and the North West in fifth.

The next events in the Series will be hosted in:

  • Sunderland on Sunday, 21 January 2024
  • London on Saturday, 30 March 2024
  • Leicester on Saturday 18 May 2024

View some of the action via the gallery below. 

Images - Jen Mol