Mideba Extremadura have recently announced the signing of GB international, Billy Bridge, following his departure from Greater Manchester side, The OWLS after three seasons. Bridge will join fellow GB athletes, Phil Pratt and George Bates in Badajoz. He sat down with Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings to discuss how excited he is to return to Spain and his aspirations to represent GB in Tokyo and win some club silverware with Mideba.


Why did you choose to move to Mideba?

“With the Tokyo Paralympic Games getting postponed for a year I realised that I need to play in a better league with world-class players in order to try and earn a spot on the GB team. I feel like I’ve served my time in the UK and had three great seasons here. Mideba is one of the best clubs in the world, and the opportunity to play alongside Phil and George really pulled me towards signing for them.”


How do you intend to fit into the team?

“I’m going to do whatever it takes me to help my team succeed, whatever my teammates ask of me I will deliver. I know my talents and I know I can contribute in a big way with my shooting and speed. I’m going to be playing alongside the best 3-point classification players in the world and I feel that when you combine us… it’s going to be scary.”


You have played in Spain when you were younger, what do you think will be similar or different this time round?

“Yeah, I moved to Spain when I was 18 to play for Valladolid, and although it was amazing and gave me important life experiences, it wasn’t the right decision for me at that moment. I was too young, and my game wasn’t developed, I chased the lifestyle and the money, and my game eventually took a knock-on effect. I don’t hold onto regrets though you live, and you learn! One bit of advice I can tell young players is don’t play abroad until you are 100% ready and have really worked on your skills. This time around moving to Spain is the completely different to when I was 18. I know I’m ready now and I’m no longer a young boy, I’ve spent three years in Sheffield working on my game and skills day-in-day-out. I’m ready.”


What new challenges do you think you will face with Mideba as you return to playing in the Division de Honour?

“The Division de Honour is the best wheelchair basketball league in the world without a shadow of doubt, every team is stacked, anyone can beat anyone on the day. It’s going to be really tough battling against some of the best players in the world but I’m confident we can make a huge statement within the league. It won’t be easy; we have a lot of work to do! My teammates are workaholics and I know we will do what we have to in order to succeed.”


How do you think the styles of play will differ between Mideba and Oldham?

“I have a lot to thank Oldham for, Dan Johnson and Gary Peel have helped me in tremendous ways, not only as a player but a person, leader and teammate. They have helped me understand and read the game a lot better, they taught me the patience and discipline which I was lacking. The difference between Oldham and Mideba is Oldham is very structured and play a kind of old school basketball with many plays. I think Mideba with the speed and outside shooting, we’re going to be freer and run a much faster and modern style of basketball.”



Do you think playing for Mideba will help you come one step closer to making it into the GB final 12? If so, how?

“I believe so yes. I’ve been in Sheffield for three years working on my chair skills and shooting day-in-day-out, whilst also studying the game in greater depths. What I’m missing is the high-level game time and I think playing in the Division de Honour will give me this opportunity. GB is the best national team in the world, we are stacked from 1.0 to 4.5 players. Our mid-pointers are especially exceptional, with players like Phil Pratt, Harry Brown and Ian Sagar, but I’m confident in my game and I know that I can contribute to the team. The main reason I’m moving to Spain is to try and break into the final 12.”


You have essentially grown up in the sport with Phil and George, how excited are you to play alongside them at club level?

“Phil and George are my brothers; I’ve known them both since I was 14 and have many amazing memories with them on and off the court. Phil and I always wanted to play alongside each other professionally and now we are living that dream. I can’t wait to beast training with them and put in some serious work, but I’m also excited to just be able to spend some time with them and chill. They are both amazing people and they know me inside out, they know how to get the best out of me; it’s going to be a fun year.”


Sue Peel is a legend of the British scene, she has helped you and countless others get to a high level. Can you explain how she’s helped you get to where you are today?

“Sue is one of the most important people in my life, I don’t consider her a ‘coach’ she is family to me, even my own family consider her as an extended Bridge. Sue is an exceptional Junior Development Coach; she is a fountain full of experience and wisdom. I honestly don’t believe I would be in the position I am now without her help and guidance. She has helped me in tremendous ways both on and off the court. What she has done for a staggering amount of young people in this sport is honestly incredible, she has changed so many lives for the better. Sue is a very loved person in the wheelchair basketball world.”


How much do you think Spanish culture will differ from British culture?

“Spanish and British culture are completely different, I’m lucky to have experienced living in Spain before so know what to expect. I think the whole lifestyle in Spain is a lot more chilled out than in the UK and of course the weather is better which helps! I did a Spanish language module at Sheffield Hallam University, so I know a little Spanish and plan to attend more Spanish classes whilst in Badajoz. My lifestyle in the UK over the past three years has been hectic with a lot of stress, driving up and down the country, not getting home until 11:30 at night after a full day of university and training. I’m really looking forward to being able to solely focus on my basketball.”


What will you miss the most about the UK when you are abroad?

“My friends and family 100%, I’m a big family person and will miss them a lot, but they are all fully behind me. I get a lot of support from the people in my hometown and they all want to see me do well. This support pushes me forward as I want to make everyone proud. To be honest, I can’t think of anything else that I’m really going to miss. My frame of mind is fully focused on moving to Spain and working hard so I doubt I will, except maybe a cheeky Nando’s.”


How would you describe your style of play?

“I think I’m a run and gun player that likes to play with freedom and no restrictions. I would consider myself a shooter and dangerous from 3-point range, but I can also make passes and create plays for my teammates. I think I bring ruthlessness and toughness to the table when I play, I won’t back down from anyone no matter who you are. I will also always have my teammates’ backs.”


What piece of advice has stuck with you throughout your career?

“I can’t think of one particular quote, but my big brother Johnny is always giving me the best and honest advice even to this day, he’s the person who can sort my head out and make me understand things from a different perspective. He’s the person who has really pushed me to work hard and try to make the GB senior men’s team, so I thank him for that.”


If you could do a training session with three other players from anywhere in the world male or female, who you’ve never trained with before, to improve your skills, which players would you choose and why?

“That’s a tough one! I think the first one would be USA’s Steve Serio; he’s an amazing player and nice guy and I would love to test myself against him and pick his brain. Second would be the Netherlands’ Bo Kramer, I think she is an extraordinary player who could be the best female player in the world in a few years. She is also a really nice person and easy to talk to. Third would be, without sounding cliché but it has to be Patrick Anderson. He’s the GOAT of our sport and the most gifted player ever, I think anyone who plays wheelchair basketball would appreciate the opportunity to train alongside Pat for the day. I’m lucky enough to have played against him when I was younger, and I was completely starstruck.”


Thanks for your time mate!


Rollt. would like to thank Billy Bridge for the interview!


Billy Bridge Profile:

Date of Birth: 08/08/1995 (aged 25)

Hometown: Ellesmere Port, Cheshire

Started playing: 2007

Classification: 3.0

Disability: Spina Bifida

Current Club: Mideba Extremadura, ESP (starting 2020)

Former Clubs:

_Helen’s Vikings, GBR (2007-12, 2015)

_The OWLS, GBR (2011-13, 2017-20)

_RGK Sporting Club Wolverhampton Rhinos, GBR (2012-13)

_Club Baloncesto Silla de Ruedas Valladolid, ESP (2013-14)

_RSB Thuringia Bulls, GER (2014)

_Dinamo Sassari, ITA (2015-17)

Career Highlights:

_2009 U23 World Championships – Cantú, Italy – Silver (GB)

_2010 U22 European Championships – Paris, France – 4th (GB)

_2012 U22 European Championships – Stoke Mandeville, GB – Gold (GB)

_2013 U23 World Championships – Adana, Turkey – 4th (GB)

_2014 U22 European Championships – Zaragoza, Spain – Gold (GB)

_2017 U22 European Championships – Lignano Sabbidoro, Italy – Silver (GB)

_2017 U23 World Championships – Toronto, Canada – Gold (GB)


Interview: Dylan Cummings | Foto: Jenniver Röczey

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