Young basketball player shoots for the stars

4th April 2014


A WHEELCHAIR basketball player is on a roll after securing his place in a junior league final.

Liam Readle will be pitched against opposition from all over the UK after his team, RGK Tees Valley Titans, qualified for the finals of The Lord Taverners Junior League, in Sheffield, on Saturday April 5.

Liam, a pupil at St Michael’s Academy, Billingham, has cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that affects movements in his arms and legs, and despite being just 13 years old will represent the team’s under-19 squad.

“I only started playing wheelchair basketball a year and a half ago when former GB Paralympian player Lee Fawcett and Tees Valley Titans team coach, came in to school for one of our PE lessons,” said Liam.

“Because I was used to using a wheelchair I found it easier than all of my school friends and Lee seemed to think I had a natural talent for it.

“He asked me to join the Tees Valley Titans team and since then I have played in three tournaments, represented Stockton at the Sainsbury’s school sports day, captained the under 15s team and played for the under 19s.”

As well as his sporting success on the basketball court, all round sportsman Liam has also played in the Inclusive Tennis Challenge Cup, at Tennis World, Middlesbrough and represented Stockton in swimming at the Sainsbury’s school sports day where he won a bronze medal.

Special needs teaching assistant Andrea Jackson said: “Liam has improved so much since he first took part in the wheelchair basketball sessions at school.
“Before that he was becoming a bit disheartened with PE and was struggling to keep up with his friends. Now PE is his favourite lesson and he is fitter, more outgoing and full of confidence.”

With Rio 2016 and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games in his sight Liam trains twice a week with the Titans, spends two evenings a week in the gym and swims every Wednesday.

He also attends Future Champions each week at Teesside University for strength and conditioning training and was recently nominated for a North East Disability Sports Award.

St Michael’s Academy PE teacher Tony Hall added: “We have seen a big change in Liam in the past year and a half in his ability, technique and leadership skills.
“He now joins in all of the lessons and we are currently in the process of challenging him to teach some of our PE sessions.

“Not only has he achieved all of this himself he has also inspired many of his peer group to see what can be achieved by hard work and determination.”

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