Ausnew Home Care | Spinners wheelchair basketball program in Murgon scouts next generation of Paralympians

Spinners wheelchair basketball program in Murgon scouts next generation of Paralympians

disability Disability Employment Services disability law disability stereotypes intellectual disability Living With a Disability NDIS NDIS Aged Care Approved no ‘dis’ in disability. Seeing the ability in disability umbrella of disability

As the countdown to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics ignites the dreams of Australia's young sportspeople, a wheelchair basketball program in country Queensland is training the next Paralympic superstars. 

The Suncoast Spinners social wheelchair sports club started on the Sunshine Coast and expanded to Murgon, in the South Burnett, one year ago.

Eight-year-old Isabella Pointing regularly counts down the sleeps until the Spinners' next come-and-try day at the Murgon Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC).

"We get ready to play wheelchair basketball. It's so fun," Bella, who has spina bifida, said. 

A young girl with a fluffy headband sits in her wheelchair on a basketball court
Bella Pointing is one of several juniors who travel to Murgon every second weekend to play wheelchair basketball.(ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)
A woman in a pink shirt stands in front of a multi-coloured wall
Crystal Olds began volunteering with Spinners after her daughter attended a come-and-try day. (ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

Her mum, Crystal Olds, said wheelchair basketball had been a game changer for her daughter.

Ms Olds and her own mother Sandra Kent began volunteering for the Spinners to bring the sport to Murgon every second Saturday. 

As a disability support worker, Ms Olds said the best part about the wheelchair basketball program was its "reverse inclusivity". 

"A lot of the time we will have people who don't have a disability want to come and try," she said.

"Bella loves watching everybody and seeing that able-bodied people can get in wheelchairs, and also meeting friends who are in wheelchairs."

A group of people play wheelchair basketball on a colourful indoor court
Organisers of the program let players of all abilities try using a wheelchair. (ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

'Like a fish to water'

Like any sport, players at the Murgon PCYC must master the basics before getting on the court for a match. 

"Right now, we're working on improving our passing and defensive positioning," Spinner coach Michael Oxley said.

"What we're looking for is people learning to go to space on offence, and when they're defending, looking to take that space away, as well as other things like communication." 

Oxley said come-and-try days were a gateway for players to go onto representative level. 

"There is a Queensland junior's program that caters up to under 25s for women and under 23s for men. A lot of regional athletes take those opportunities," he said. 

Man in Aus flag face mask stands on a basketball court
Michael Oxley teaches players the basics first.(ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

"These guys here have definitely got those skills and the enthusiasm as a starting point.

"It will now come down to how resilient they are and how much hard work they're happy to put in, but we cater to all levels." 

Lincoln McDougall, 11, has his sights set on playing at a competitive level.

His mother Sharon Dale said wheelchair basketball had brought out a side of her son she had never seen before. 

A mother crouches next to her son in a wheelchair and they both smile
Sharon Dale hopes her son, Lincoln McDougall, will one day represent Australia in the Paralympics. (ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram )

"As a parent it makes me feel super proud. I even have tears thinking about it because you just see what they can do — not just Lincoln, but the other children here."

Lincoln will soon be fitted in his first sports wheelchair.

"He'll be at the right age to excel there.

"You just never know what the world is going to hold for these kids."

Something for everyone

Emerald Whilmshurst realised her goals earlier this year when she was selected in an Australian wheelchair basketball squad, after making her start in the regions.

A young women in a wheelchair smiles on a basketball court with players behind her
Emerald Wilmshurst has been selected for an Australian women's wheelchair basketball squad.(ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

"It was back in 2019 for a come-and-try day. I absolutely loved it. It's really inclusive to everyone," she said.

 But not everyone wants to go pro.

Bradley Heimerl says he enjoys the social side of the sport. 

A young man smiles while a game of wheelchair basketball is played behind him
Bradley Heimerl says he has made many new friends through wheelchair basketball. (ABC Wide Bay: Lucy Loram)

Ms Kent said the team at Murgon could always use some extra help to put chairs together, pump tyres and check equipment. 

"Coaches or referees, Spinners have a program that we can take you through to become accredited," she said.

"We would love volunteers."


Source: ABC

Older Post Newer Post