Mideba Extremadura has recently announced the signing of current European Champion and U23 World Champion, Ben Fox following his departure from the Sheffield Steelers Wheelchair Basketball Club after three seasons with the side. He spoke with Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings about playing in his first professional season alongside his fellow GB teammates; Abdi Jama, Gregg Warburton, Phil Pratt and George Bates.
How does it feel to be newly crowned European Champions?
“I am immensely proud to be part of such a fantastic team; it was an experience I will never forget!”
Why did you choose to move to Mideba Extremadura?
“I had heard great things about the club’s structure, location and plans for the future. The team is coached by an exciting young coach, Jorge Cintas, who is full of big ideas. I am excited to be part of new project. Of course, linking up with; Phil, George, Gregg and Abdi was also a huge bonus.”
How do you intend to fit into the team?
“I would like to think I can help the team offensively and defensively; I am happy to play any role the club require me to play.”
What new challenges do you think you will face in the Division de Honour?
“At this moment in time it is the strongest league in the world in my opinion, playing tough games week in week out and going up against world-class players will bring a lot of challenges in itself. I expect it to be a lot more physical than I have experienced in the past.”
How excited are you to play alongside your brothers; Gregg, Phil and George at club level?
“I can’t wait! We have all grown up together in the sport and to get to do it full time with them is a great opportunity. I owe a lot to these guys for the support they have given me over the years.”
Is Abdi a mentor to you guys?
“Abdi looks after us all well! His experience of the game both on and off court is going to be so valuable for the team and I this season.”
How do you think the styles of play will differ between Steelers and Mideba?
“I feel like there will be some similarities, both teams like to play at a quick pace and keep momentum going!”
With Steelers you have pretty much steamrolled through every team over the last two years in the British league. The Division de Honour will be a lot more competitive; how do you think this will benefit you personally?
“I can’t wait to be in situations where I need to adapt my game. I am looking forward to having competitive games all year round and learning new skills throughout the season.”
What are your goals for next season?
“To be competitive in the league and bring some success to the club. I also want to remain fit and healthy after the heart surgery I underwent last year. The long-term goal for this year is to work hard and make the team for Tokyo!”
How has the GB centralised programme benefited you over the last two years?
“It has been amazing to be in a world-class environment. It has taught me how to become an athlete on and off the court. Without the centralised programme I would not be in the position I am now, a big thank you to all the staff at BWB and the EIS for their continued support.”
How much do you think Spanish culture will differ from British culture?
“Apart from it being about 20 degrees too warm for me, I am looking forward to experiencing a new way of life, meeting new people and trying new foods! As for differences I will just have to find them out as I go.”
What will you miss the most about the UK when you are abroad?
“My family. They mean a lot to me and are a big part of why I do this.”
You are also a very successful amputee footballer, why did you choose to pursue basketball over football?
“I wouldn’t say successful (laughs) Basketball and football have given me both amazing opportunities. Who knows in the future I might return to the midfield position.”
How would you describe your style of play?
Has anyone specifically influenced you to play the way you do?
“There are so many great players to take pointers from. I like to watch as much game footage as possible and see how different guys play. Players like Ian Sagar, the Zarzuela twins and Ismail Ar; they are all great at the pick and roll and crossing the floor, these are aspects of the game I would love to master.”
What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?
“Minor setbacks for major comebacks.”
If you could do a training session with three other players from anywhere in the world male or female to improve your skills, which players would you choose and why?
“Patrick Anderson; simply because he is the greatest player to play the game. Matt Scott; his intensity on court and in training is something amazing! Harry Brown; his chair skills are unbelievable, and he does things in training I have never seen before.”
Thanks for your time mate!
Rollt. would like to thank Ben Fox for the interview.
Ben Fox Profile
Date of Birth: 16/08/1995 (aged 24)
Hometown: Swindon, Wiltshire
Started playing: 2007
GB senior debut: 2019 European Championships – Walbrzych, Poland
Disability: VATER Syndrome and right-leg amputee
Future Club: Mideba Extremadura, ESP (started September 2019)
_RGK Sporting Club Wolverhampton Rhinos, GBR (2007-12)
_CWBA, GBR (2012-14)
_Swindon Shock, GBR (2015-16)
_Sheffield Steelers, GBR (2016-19)
_2017 U23 World Champion – Toronto, Canada
_2019 European Champion – Walbrzych, Poland
Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Steffie Wunderl