The Northern Ireland Wheelchair Basketball Team have flown out to Birmingham as they prepare to make history at the Commonwealth Games. As Wheelchair Basketball makes its debut at the Games, the sport will no doubt be under the spotlight.
Northern Ireland players Nathan McCabe, Matt Rollston and Conn Nagle along with Disability Sport NI Performance Pathways Officer Phil Robinson flew out from Belfast City Airport. They were joined at the airport by Disability Sport NI Chairperson Paddy Marshall and Chief Executive Kevin O’Neill. The excitement and anticipation was palpable amongst the group.
The team were complete when they joined double World Champion and Paralympic Bronze medallist James MacSorley in Birmingham to start preparations ahead of their first game on Saturday 30th July against Canada. Having all began their Wheelchair Basketball career with Knights Wheelchair Basketball Club, Conn now plays for Sheffield Steelers and James for Bidaideak Bilbao BSR (Spain) in addition to the Northern Ireland team.
Kevin O’Neill commended the team saying, “We are all very proud to watch as four of Northern Ireland’s finest wheelchair basketball players leave to represent at the Commonwealth Games. Having trained hard and prepared well, the squad are in a strong position, and will no doubt approach each game with the same passion and determination that we saw at the qualifiers.”
In a nail-biting qualifier against Scotland, Northern Ireland player Nathan McCabe scored the winning basket securing the teams spot at the Games this Summer. As the youngest player on the team, this will be Nathan’s first appearance on the international stage.
Speaking of the experience, Nathan McCabe commented, “It’s such an honour to qualify for the Northern Ireland Commonwealth team. I can’t wait to get out there on court with my fellow teammates and make our country proud. Wheelchair Basketball has been a big part of my life to date and making the squad that debuts the sport at the Commonwealth Games, is an experience I will never forget.”
Wheelchair Basketball in Northern Ireland is developed through Disability Sport NI and supported by Sport NI, National Lottery funding.