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Belfast Healthy Cities

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Healthy Cities 21st Century

Danny Cooper's Dank U, Danke Schön & Thank You!

Danny Cooper, from Disability Sport NI, writes about his trip to the Netherlands & Germany as part of the Belfast Healthy Cities Explorer Bursary

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is one of Europe’s busiest, and marks the final place on the week-long Belfast Healthy Cities trip, as I write my final report and have my final “proper” Dutch coffee!

Following on from the mid-trip report, where all thoughts and reflections were from the Netherlands, I am back in the Netherlands, but have indeed ventured further spending the last part of the week in Hannover, Germany.

Wednesday’s train journey was followed by a hotel check-in and a catch-up with (someone who I now consider a good friend) Joe, a Wheelchair Basketball player who played internationally for Great Britain winning many honours, who now plys his trade as a professional player in Germany for Hannover United. The day with Joe wasn’t a meeting, or an appointment, no formal notes were taken, but it provided an opportunity for me to tap into the mind of a player who has seen, played and lived the sport for years! From 16:00 to 22:00 we covered most topics which exist within the sport - allowing me to get a true sense of how the sport looks in Germany, especially when compared to Great Britain, and also how the sport looks as a professional entity. My thanks to Joe cannot only be for this, but also for; the lifts, the introductions to his friends, team-mates and family, the plan making and appointment arranging, his tour-guiding and for essentially making the “Hannover” part of my trip as close to perfect as humanly possible across Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!

Thursday offered me the chance to meet with Hannover United’s staff and players which Joe had kindly arranged. This began by meeting Jan, a player for Hannover United and, oh yes, captain of German national team and someone who works very hard for his hometown club behind the scenes too. I also met Udo, the business-mind behind the club, making it into the impressive club setup it is today! The stroll back to the hotel after is a slight blur, as my head was (and remains) full of possibilities as to what is possible in the sport. The list of possibilities then extended much further upon meeting Martin, the head coach of Hannover United and, oh yes, assistant head coach of the German national team! Martin kindly set aside some time from his busy schedule and allowed me to unpick his understanding of the sport from a playing and coaching perspective on a regional and national level! Attending the club training that night was the only missing piece of the jigsaw – so when Martin offered me the chance to attend that night at 19:00 I could not accept quick enough! The session provided a great insight into; the club, their preparation, their skill-level and also their togetherness, United they certainly are!

The only way to finish this report, and close the laptop on the end of the trip, is to recognise all of the wonderful people who have made the learning journey complete and fulfilled, including; the Disability Sports staff, Government officials and the players/volunteers/coaches of the wheelchair basketball club in Utrecht, and Joe, his family and the staff and team-mates in Hannover (United), and finally the Healthy cities team and staff in Belfast (especially Caroline) – Dank U, Danke Schone & Thank You!