“It’s harder than it looks and you need upper body strength … it makes you appreciate people who are in wheelchairs,” said Samson, 21, of Salmon River, after a short demonstration and game of wheelchair basketball at the former Princess Margaret Rose school in Truro on Monday night.
The workshop was offered by Joel Goswell, who is a summer employee with Bible Hill’s recreation department. Goswell became interested in wheelchair basketball when a friend introduced him to the sport less than a year ago at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. He is now a member of the Nova Scotia wheelchair basketball team.
“Not too many people know how it works, let alone try it. It’s for disabled and able-bodied people … there’s not enough inclusion-based sports and people are surprised to know how many able-bodied people participate,” said Goswell, 21, who used to play “stand up” basketball until he injured his knee.
In fact, he said, 40 per cent of participants in the sport in the Canada Games are able-bodied.
“It’s a very social game; you have to talk to each other the whole time, and there’s a lot of arm cardio and muscle development. It’s also very humbling. It opens your eyes … since I started I’m more aware of wheelchair accessible issues.”
Goswell hopes more people will learn about the sport and perhaps form a local league. However, a lot goes into it, from the sport itself to the specialized wheelchairs.
“It’s a very high contact game. There’s a lot of positioning and you have to be brute and get in the way of others on the (court). There’s limited space to shoot as well,” he explained of the game.
“The hardest is dribbling. You have to spin your wheels twice and then dribble,” added Samson.
Regarding the wheelchairs, Goswell is using about 20 of them for the demonstrations that are on loan from St. FX. He said the wheelchairs cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 and are traditionally custom-made. They have bumpers in the front, five or six wheels, the ability to lean backwards, a strap for safety and the main wheels are on an angle for stability.
To learn more about the sport, you can attend one of the free demonstrations this week. On Thursday, the demo will take place at Bible Hill Junior High School between 6:30 and 8 p.m. On Saturday, it will be held at Redcliff Middle School from 10 to 11:30 a.m. as well as from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
For more information on the sport, and where leagues can be found, email Goswell at email@example.com or contact Truro or Colchester County recreation departments, which are also promoting the sport.