Phil Robinson (Wheelchair Basketball Performance Officer | Northern Ireland) is talking about disability sports and wheelchair basketball in Northern Ireland, the Irish League and the national and international objectives.
Phil, how is wheelchair basketball organized in Northern Ireland? Do you work with British wheelchair basketball (BWB)?
Disability sports Northern Ireland is the leading body for wheelchair basketball Northern Ireland. There are several streams that can be taken as an athlete. The GB route and Ireland route. The IWA (Ireland wheelchair association) is the association within Ireland and is the governing body for the Irish league. The British wheelchair basketball association is the association for when the GB route has been chosen by an athlete that will pursue an opportunity and training for the GB national teams. Disability Sport NI (Northern Ireland) and IWA don’t just govern wheelchair basketball, but also many other sports.
How many teams are in the Irish League?
There are currently 9 teams in the Irish league and often there will be multiple games played at the same venue in a weekend. More can be found on the website of the Irish league (Editor’s note: http://www.iwa.ie/basketball/).
Can you tell us something about the Mission Statement or rather the philosophy?
Our Mission is to break down fundamentals of the game and create a national team environment in a regional setting so when athletes go the GB or international route, they will be as prepared as they possibly can be and not feel overwhelmed.
What’s about the funding? Government? Sponsors? Grants?
Disability Sport NI has several different funders for their organization but also offers different opportunities to support athletes. Some of the opportunities available for Northern Ireland athletes are the “Sport NI Sporting Winners Investment Program”, “District Council Awards”, and “The Mary Peters Trust”. All opportunities can be found on the Disability Sport NI website (Editor’s note: http://www.dsni.co.uk/).
Do you have trouble “finding” athletes? How have you grown?
Currently 4 clubs, working up to 5 and 6 clubs. We have a strong network with schools and the medical community and other clubs. More and more people are wanting to get involved.
What are your national and international objectives?
Our goal is to get as many players as we can into the Paralympics. Ireland is in division B currently, but we have several players who have gone through the GB routes and represented Ireland through team GB. For our players who want to go to the Paralympics they currently have to go through GB route. A goal in the near future for us is 3 vs. 3 in 2022 at the Commonwealth games.
Thank you for your time, Phil.
Interview: Vanessa Erskine | Edit: Annika Aul | Photocredit: Matthew Murnaghan / Wheelchair Basketball Canada.