Portchester Community School helps launch £8m cash fund to get disabled into sport

HOOP DREAMS Pupils at Portchester Community School play wheelchair basketball.  Picture: Steve Reid (121772-272)

HOOP DREAMS Pupils at Portchester Community School play wheelchair basketball. Picture: Steve Reid (121772-272)

Jon Platt

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A SCHOOL where youngsters enjoy sport as equals helped launch an £8m fund to get more disabled people into games.

Pupils at Portchester Community School enjoyed their bi-weekly game of wheelchair basketball to mark the announcement of Sport England’s National Lottery funding.

Disabled people and groups across the UK will be able to bid for the cash.

Portchester was recently awarded £98,000 from Sport England towards a state-of-the-art outdoor sports complex with a synthetic turf football pitch and five wheelchair-friendly tennis courts.

Callum Palmer, 15, who suffers from spina bifida which affects his ability to walk, has ambitions to compete in the Paralympics.

He trains at weekends with the Hampshire Hornets in Eastleigh and attends two basketball clubs at school, where he admits he prefers the more even mix of disabled and able-bodied players.

Callum said: ‘I’d love to be a Paralympian.

‘I enjoy wheelchair basketball so much, it’s great exercise and lots of fun.

‘I’m incredibly lucky to be at this school where there’s such a great atmosphere and everyone plays together, no matter what obstacles they may face.

‘I’m looking forward to the new sports development. I can’t wait for the tennis courts to be built.’

Bobby Kerr, 13, is able-bodied and goes along to wheelchair basketball every week which he prefers to other sports.

He said: ‘It has a bit more of a complex structure than most other games – you have to make sure you are steering in the right direction.

‘It’s not an easy game – and I really feel like I’m at a disadvantage when I’m playing. Boys like Callum just whizz past.

‘The new facilities are going to be amazing, as we’ll be able to play outdoors.’

There are 99 days to the Paralympics and this pot of money is designed to help tackle the fact that sees just one in six disabled adults playing sport regularly, compared with one in three non-disabled adults.

Natasha Quinn, of Sport England, said: ‘We chose Portchester because all the children are so supportive of each other and their headteacher Roger Matthews is inspirational.’

Mr Matthews said: ‘We are all thrilled with our external sports development.

‘Some of our facilities have been sub standard up until now – so it’s wonderful to be in a position to be able to provide youngsters with a state-of-the-art complex for our able-bodied and disabled students to play sport together.’

He added: ‘What’s fantastic about the timing of this is that it will leave a legacy for all our youngsters. They’ll be able to look back to the Olympics and the Jubilee and remember that was when their new sports facilities were put in.’

Portchester’s outdoor development is due to be officially opened on July 19.

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