A BROMSGROVE husband and wife have appealed for funding and players to help keep their wheelchair basketball club going.
Former Great Britain athlete Julia Smith formed the Birmingham Black Cats wheelchair basketball club in 2003 as a way to help young people with disabilities stay fit.
Her husband Rob soon joined, and the club played in the British Wheelchair Basketball League for 14 seasons before disbanding back in 2017.
Rob and Julia started a new team, Birmingham Phoenix, a year later, and continued to develop the skills and confidence of players from Birmingham and Worcestershire.
Several current and former players have either represented the West Midlands, played for their national teams or been invited to try out for the Birmingham 2022 commonwealth games squad.
However, membership has dropped since the pandemic as several players have either returned home after leaving university or retired from the sport, while several of the clubs remaining members can’t afford to pay their monthly fees.
The club haven’t played in the league since 2020 and has spent the last two years playing in friendlies and tournaments, however, they were unable to enter the latest competition they were invited to as they couldn’t afford the entry fee.
Julia said: “We decided to come back originally to reconnect with our old teammates, but since then we’ve had several players come through the door and it’s been wonderful to see their skills and confidence grow.
“We want this sport to be accessible to everyone as I know first-hand the benefits it can have- I’ve seen people come into our court with crippling anxiety and go on to confidently take on some of the best players in the country.
“Our aim is to go on as long as possible, but we need help to do that.”
The club trains at Bishop Challoner Sports Centre in Kings Heath every Tuesday between 6pm and 8pm.