Parasport comes to New College Swindon as part of a planned new Disability Sports Hub

Swindon Shock Wheelchair Basketball team has found a new home at the Sports Centre at New College Swindon. Led by Ben Fox, Paralympian and former New College student, this is the first stage in the creation of a Disabilities Sports Hub for the town.

After the team’s home venue for over a decade, Youth First Centre – Oakfield Project closed, Ben approached New College’s Sports Facilities Manager, Dan Thorley, to provide a venue for the team’s weekly training sessions. Other supporters and volunteers are also on board; Soccer & Sporting Excellence Academy has offered to sponsor the team and provide coaching support and a College gym member will provide free manual labour to cover the transition of the wheelchairs from storage to set up. Swindon’s Mayor Abdul Amin and South Swindon Parish Council also provided a funding grant to help restart the wheelchair basketball sessions at New College. The team will also provide staff and students with the opportunity to gain a recognised basketball coaching qualification.

Following his own life-changing experiences through parasports, Ben, who won a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, is determined to raise the profile and accessibility of parasport across Swindon and Wiltshire.

He said: “There are very few parasport clubs in the area and no sports halls that are accessible for people with disabilities. The ultimate goal is to have a disabled sports academy based out of the New College Sports Centre, offering a whole range of parasports training and taster sessions. As a former New College student, I think it would be great if we could also work with the curriculum to get current sport students trying out the different sports and getting involved with the coaching and conditioning side of things.”

People with disabilities are often at greater risk for health problems that can be prevented. For example, obesity, fatigue, muscle injuries and even mental health.

Ben also said: “A lot of money is spent on the nutrition and health of individuals with disabilities, rather than directing funds and support into effective ways to address and prevent those problems in the first place. Investing in facilities and resources for parasports, is a great way to tackle this issue whilst provide a fun and inclusive place for people with disabilities to thrive.”

Dan Thorley, Sports Facilities Manager, New College Swindon said:

“Ben has inspired so many people through his achievements on the court but it’s his willingness to give his time and voice to championing this cause which is going to have a lasting impact in our local community. When Ben reached out to discuss his vision, I knew this was a project that we had to get on board with. It really aligns with the College’s mission, to provide opportunities for personal and professional development to everyone, regardless of background or circumstances.”

Ben is donating his framed playing jersey from Tokyo to the College, to help raise awareness of inclusion and inspire others to chase their dreams. He will also be donating a sports trophy to be awarded yearly to a sports student who has shown great determination, commitment and sporting excellence.

Ben Humphrey, Club Chairperson, said:

“I am so pleased the club is back training and local people now have the chance to play wheelchair basketball again; it’s been a tough couple of years with COVID and our venue closing. The energy that Ben Fox has brought to the project and the support that all at New College has given has been invaluable. We’re also proud to announce that ex-student Wes Newman has recently completed his Level 2 qualification and is stepping up to coach the weekly sessions. It feels like our family has found a new home.”

If you would like to volunteer or support the Swindon Shock Wheelchair Basketball team, or get involved in the development of the Disability Sport Hub in any way, please contact Ben Humphrey at shockwheelchair@outlook.com or visit Swindon Shock Wheelchair Basketball at www.swindonshock.com/wheelchai…

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