GLL (2) were crowned champions of the #SupportTheNext Trophy, SportsAid's annual wheelchair basketball competition, as they overcame GLL (1) in a closely-fought final at the Copper Box Arena last Thursday (30 March). You can view a full set of photos here.
The tournament, backed by GLL and British Wheelchair Basketball, presented SportsAid partners and supporters with the chance to experience the fast-paced and challenging nature of one of the most popular Paralympic sports. The majority of players were able-bodied and using wheelchairs for the first time.
GLL (2) narrowly beat Team SportsAid in the last four before their 4-2 victory over GLL (1) in the Copper Box Arena derby saw them take the silverware. Neat Nutrition brushed aside SportsAid, featuring Paralympic silver medallist Toby Gold and sporting soprano Laura Wright, in the third place play-off.
The #SupportTheNext Trophy contained eight teams with CGI, Sport England, Zurich and Get Living London also competing. CGI beat Sport England to finish fifth with Zurich securing seventh position ahead of Get Living London. GLL (2) player Garnet Mackinder was voted MVP following her influential performances.
Each team, before the group matches got underway, were given a run-down of the basic skills required to play wheelchair basketball by British Wheelchair Basketball coaches and players. SportsAid alumni Ade Adepitan, Fi Tillman and Matt Sealy were on hand to provide tips and advice to the teams.
Ade, Fi and Matt also starred in a special showcase match between London Titans Wheelchair Basketball Club, who play their home games at the Copper Box, and a British Wheelchair Basketball select. Current SportsAid athletes Ben Fox (GLL Sports Foundation) and Ashley Greening (Girdlers) featured too.
“Everybody has laughed, challenged themselves and been taken out of their comfort zones,” said Fi, who was supported by SportsAid in 2014, during the awards presentation. “It has been magnificent and incredibly humbling. Initially, there’s always a little bit of uncertainty amongst people as to what to expect.
“I have a little moment of quiet at the start of these days where I watch people come in, mill about and see them quite attached to their own group and looking nervous. And then, within the next hour, it seems that by just getting in the chair that it strips back everybody’s inhibitions and they all become equal.
“It’s important to take that back to your work places because what you learn on the court can also be transferred directly into your lives. When I play wheelchair basketball, it’s not just about being an athlete and having the entitlement to be one, it’s an opportunity which allows me to go and empower other people.”
Here are the final standings for the 2017 #SupportTheNext Trophy:
1. GLL 2
2. GLL 1
3. Neat Nutrition
6. Sport England
8. Get Living London
British Wheelchair Basketball select
Fi Tillman – GB Senior Women's squad
Ben Fox – GB U23 Men’s Team/GB Senior Men’s squad
Harry Blyth – GB U23 Men’s Team
Ashley Greening – GB U25 Women’s squad
London Titans Wheelchair Basketball Club
Ade Adepitan – GB Paralympian
Matt Sealy – GB Paralympian
Tyler Saunders – former GB player
Sophie Paterson – GB U25 Women’s team/GB Senior Women’s squad