Phoenix flying high with Blackwood support under their wings

Wheelchair basketball is an unfamiliar sport for many, present writer included.

 

But like many sports it became quickly apparent that it was a fast paced and frenetic pursuit, requiring a level of skill and control that, one could argue, is higher than its able-bodied cousin. 

 

Not only are the baskets at their usual height, but shooting often takes place while still rolling, making the basket effectively a moving target, albeit with the shooter as the moving object. 

 

Lothian Phoenix are sponsored by Blackwood and they did us proud; rising higher than their opponents the Manchester Mavericks, winning the encounter 50-35. 

 

After the game we spoke to Head Coach Tina Gordon and Captain Steven Ross; both spoke of the importance of their win. 

 

Gordon said: “We were always expecting a tough game against them because before Christmas we lost to them but we kept our focus really well and played to our strengths, which are very much a fast flowing game offensively and defensively. We kept in it and it was quite a comfortable game; everybody did their job, supported each other and did me proud.”

 

Ross thinks his team’s fortunes are on the rise, he said: “They beat us last time so we did okay; we’re getting better as each game goes on. It was a slow start for us with a new coach coming in and so it was case of getting everyone up to full fitness and all that sort of stuff. So by next season we’ll be better.”

 

It was a comfortable margin of victory in the end and continued their unbeaten home record, Gordon added: “We have two games left and we are sitting in 3rd place, we play the team [Sheffield Steelers] top of the league next and they’re unbeaten; but I think it’s still winnable for us.”

 

And winnable it was; with Phoenix only narrowly losing to the Steelers 49-53, thus losing their unbeaten home record, but the small margin supports the evidence of their on-going improvement.

 

She said: “We’ve got Nottingham Jaguars away [next] which will be another tight game because we beat them by one point when they came up to us so that’s going to be tough; but if we win I think we’ll [have a chance to] maintain 3rd so that’s great because we’re newly promoted back up to Division 1.”

 

Gordon is also hopeful to get more involved with Blackwood, she said: “We’re looking to get more involvement. We’ve talked about having a Phoenix and Blackwood friendly game against Dundee Dragons and Gowrie Care, so that might be quite nice to have that challenge going on there.

 

“It can help us get to know some of the staff and the staff to get to know some of the players; once the season finishes in a few weeks we will look at setting that up.”

 

One thing that was abundantly clear was that sport, competitive or otherwise, is a vital means of participation and inclusion; essential for many disabled people, who may feel isolated from society at times.

 

It’s good to see that some rays of light remain from the post-Paralympic period of sunshine for disabled sport; Phoenix can soar without fear.

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