Interview with Haj Bhania: “In essence our masterplan is simple – we want to build a strong future.”

Before the World Championships took place in Hamburg we asked the coach of the British men’s national team, Haj Bhania,  a few questions. Unfortunately, it was only now that we got to publish them.

Can you explain the GB masterplan, the Team GB philosophy strategy to all the Rollt. readers? Where does the federation see itself within the next five – ten years?

Ultimately our ambition is to develop a performance programme which excels at success across a number of factors. Indeed winning medals will always be a key marker for measuring success; but we also want to ensure this can be sustained. Through the investment and development of our GB talent pathway we are creating opportunities for younger players to emerge into the senior GB squads through our centralised academy programme.

Across all four teams we will continue to develop our team unity both on and off court – through the centralised programme, regular training camps and competition. In Hamburg our team play was exceptional, the teams communicated well, and were agile and responsive.

In essence our masterplan is simple – we want to build a strong future.

We’ve heard, that GB national players are required to play in Great Britain to become or stay a member of the national squad? For example: Jim Palmer has developed well in Wiesbaden but now has had to move back home, and Abdi Jama left Vigo two years ago, and Phil Pratt and George Bates among others left Europe to play in Sheffield. Other experienced players like Ade Orogbemi or Kyle Marsh for example are based abroad and didn’t make it to the national team this year. What are the requirements, besides the wheelchair basketball skills, to become a national player?

Selection to the GB team is through a robust and transparent process. Selection decisions are then subject to scrutiny and approval via identified panels. Here is a link to the Tokyo Cycle Major Tournament Selection Policy > Click  This details the criteria and process undertaken for selection to the GB World Championships team.

If it is expected that the British national key players, with the exception of the experienced athletes such as Gaz Choudhry or Terry Bywater, are playing in England, why can the captain of the squad play in Spain next year, despite the previous rule being the captain had to be based in England? Doesn’t such transfers destroy the philosophy and strategy?

The GB Captain position is a decision of the GB Men’s Head coach, and it will be reviewed on annual basis as part of our performance review processes.

As of late in Germany the national players can use their own sports wheelchairs when they play for the national team while still having a sponsorship with Ottobock. How is that regulated in Great Britain?

We were delighted to announce during the World Championships our new partnership with Matsunaga as our ‘Official Basketball Wheelchair Sponsor of the GB Performance Programme’. We are in a process of transitioning all GB players to Matsunaga chairs in time for the Tokyo Paralympics. Our athletes were a part of the assessment process for all potential GB chair providers.

When playing for their own clubs GB athletes are welcome to play in sports chairs of their choice.

Thank you very much Haj.

Interview: Martin Schenk | Foto: Steffie Wunderl

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