BEACONSFIELD School’s special wheelchair basketball team reached the semi-finals of a national competition before bowing out to last year’s champions.
The school was one of six teams flying the flag for their regions and they represented the south east, although there was no qualification needed to land the honour, because the event is still in its infancy.
It was only the second year the IZB (Inclusive Zone Basketball) National Schools Finals have taken place and the matches were held at the Fenton Manor Sports Complex in Stoke-on-Trent.
The format is a four-a-side game, with two players in wheelchairs and two standing at any one time.
The idea is to allow disabled and able bodied players to play in the same team.
Able bodied players can also end up playing in a wheelchair to maintain a balance in the contest.
The Beaconsfield team, led by skipper James Blythe, also included one regular wheelchair user, Jonathan Adams, who plays for the Aces wheelchair basketball team in Stoke Mandeville.
He was born with arthrogryposis and scoliosis, which means he has no movement in his ankles. He has had numerous operations throughout his life to treat pains in his joints, but he is the expert when it comes to playing in the wheelchair.
The others in the five-man squad were Hayley Marriott, Megan Scott and Danyaal Hasmi and the team ended the tournament with three wins and three defeats from their six matches before that 19-18 defeat in the semi-final.
“The standard has improved very quickly and one of the teams now has a player who can shoot baskets from half way,” said Paul Maddock, head of the school’s PE department.
“The good thing about this format is that it gives everyone a chance to play together, so it is not just for the disabled or just for able bodied players.
“The players love it."