Sophie Countess of Wessex launches wheelchair basketball programme in Finsbury Park

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: HRH Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, GBR Wheelchair Basketball Internationa

Her Royal Highness, Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones, Countess of Wessex, GBR Wheelchair Basketball International Joy Haizelden and young players in Finsbury Park. - Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for British Wheelchair Basketball

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, shot hoops with young wheelchair basketball players in Finsbury Park to launch a £1.5million programme. 

Prince Edward's wife, who is thought to be a close confidant of the Queen, was in North London last week for the first Inspire a Generation session. 

The game launched the official rollout of community-led six-week wheelchair basketball courses across the country which aims to give people the opportunity to try the sport for the first time. 

Great Britain Women’s wheelchair basketball player, Joy Haizelden, said: “[This] is a hugely exciting moment for wheelchair basketball and a really positive move to get more people playing the game we all love.

"I don’t know where I’d be without wheelchair basketball and I hope that through the Inspire a Generation sessions, more people can try the sport and experience the happiness it has brought me.”

Young girl plays wheelchair basketball in Finsbury Park.

Local children try wheelchair basketball for the first time. - Credit: Will Johnston Photography


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The five-year programme has trained 48 Community Activators so far, who will deliver wheelchair courses for communities across England. 

The Countess is British Wheelchair Basketball's royal patron. She met with players and had a go at shooting for the net herself. 

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According to British Wheelchair Basketball, the governing body for wheelchair basketball in UK, there are currently 17,000 people playing the sport in the UK and more than 200 teams. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 20: HRH Sophie, The Countess of Wessex speaks with young players during a medi

Sophie, The Countess of Wessex speaks with young players during a media event to launch the Inspire a Generation programme. - Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for British Wheelchair Basketball

Lisa Pearce, chief executive at British Wheelchair Basketball: "Never has there been a more important time to provide new inclusive, fun and informal sporting opportunities for the public."

She says the programme will help build "sustained positive physical activity habits for all of its participants". 

She added: “The Inspire a Generation taster sessions will be vital in helping support disabled participants find or return to physical activity, many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic."

British Wheelchair Basketball Inspire a Generation launch event at Finsb

Children from Haringey took part in the session in Finsbury Park. - Credit: Will Johnston Photography

The programme is being funded by National Lottery and Sport England.

To sign-up for the sessions visit: www.inspireageneration.com.

To find out where your nearest sessions are, or to become a Community Activator, visit: www.inspireageneration.com.

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