Paralympic ambition for West Leeds wheelchair basketballer

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Determined: Will Bonner

By James Bovington

“Life’s about making the best of the cards that you’ve been dealt,” says Will Bonner. “And wheelchair basketball is what’s allowing me to make friends, experience different cultures and show that everyone can develop resilience through effort and application in their chosen sport.”

Twenty-five-year-old Bonner grew up in Wortley and is still based in West Leeds, but since September last year has been playing for a team from Feurs in central France, about an hour’s drive west of Lyons.

“I’d played elsewhere in France before and in Spain but got this opportunity through my former British junior team coach. The pay as such isn’t brilliant but the team covers my living expenses and they’ve made me welcome. I’m back in France from mid-January to finish the season and hope they’ll keep me on for next season. That will also give me time to improve my French.”

Former Swallow Hill student Bonner has played for several British teams and was selected for the junior British team, the England North team and the sport’s Premier League. He’s also obtained a diploma in the sport.

He said: “My ambition is to represent Britain at the Paralympics, but you’d be surprised at how many highly skilled players there are.

“My philosophy is that I will see where this journey takes me and continue to play to the best of my ability, and I always encourage aspiring players to train hard and play even harder as they garner experience listening to coaches and learning from their peers.”

Wheelchair basketball was first introduced in the US to help rehabilitate injured WW2 veterans. The sport was first played in Britain in the 1960s and received recognition as a paralympic sport at the Arnhem Games in 1980 following the formation of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. 

Spider-Y is the Leeds team training at Morley Leisure Centre on Tuesday evenings. Those interested in trying out the sport can contact the team on 07581 745428. Further details are available here.

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