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Belfast Healthy Cities

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Healthy Cities 21st Century

2019 BHC Explorer Bursary

Danny Cooper, from Disability Sport NI, is the 2019 Belfast Healthy Cities Explorer Bursary recipient. He will travel to Holland and Germany to find out about Wheelchair Basketball, and ahead of his trip he outlines what he hopes to learn.


Ahead of a busy time for the sport of Wheelchair Basketball in Northern Ireland, whereby Disability Sport NI staff have worked to enable the domestic club scene to grow, and with developments at National level in terms of competition, I am heading to the Netherlands and Germany following a successful application to World Health Organisation’s Health City Explorer Bursary to examine how the sport is facilitated, how it functions and how it has developed in each of the countries. 

The sport of Wheelchair Basketball is a fast paced and inclusive sport which is included within the Paralympic Games and has been since the inaugural games in Rome, Italy in 1960. The sport offers a sporting outlet for people with a Physical Disability, allowing for the benefits of participation in sport and physical activity to be gained within a team setting. 

I will be leaving for Utrecht on 14th October, spending two full days in the Netherlands fourth largest city. This part of the journey will allow for and in-depth exploration to take place, as meetings with relevant parties and organisations who facilitate Disability Sport in the Netherlands, in particular Wheelchair Basketball, will take place on 14th as well as the 15th and 16th October. This visit will hopefully also encompass a visit to a local Wheelchair Basketball club, a meeting which would give a great insight into how and why people got involved in the sport and also how the club functions. 

Prior to heading back to Belfast, I will be commuting across the border to neighbouring Germany, specifically Hannover, spending part of 16th and the whole of 17th and 18th October in the city. The capital of Lower Saxony is home to Hannover United Wheelchair Basketball club. Again, meetings will take place with various relevant people to ascertain how and why players engage with the sport at all levels, from junior age groups through to senior sessions and why people play at various tiers of participation from recreational play to performance level. The second part to the trip will allow for a comparison between the two countries which I have visited to be made, as well as offering a chance for me to contrast the stage at which the sport is at back in Northern Ireland with what I have seen on mainland Europe. 

The trip, which is very exciting and offers a first opportunity to meet and learn from other countries outside of the UK and Ireland, will see me head with a list of formal questions which hopefully all receive answers, whilst provide some context and learning which can be taken back to further develop the sport in Northern Ireland. 

Danny Cooper, 

Disability Sport NI