Waterlooville students and firefighters take part in wheelchair basketball fundraiser

ON ME 'ED! Emsworth Team firefighter Lee Merritt gets the ball away.  Picture: Malcom Wells (121171-0162)
ON ME 'ED! Emsworth Team firefighter Lee Merritt gets the ball away. Picture: Malcom Wells (121171-0162)
Vicky Beckett back in her car after it had been professionally cleaned     

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NONE of them had ever played wheelchair basketball before.

But students made playing the sport look easy as they competed in a tournament in aid of good causes at South Downs College, Waterlooville.

TEAMWORK Portsmouth College's team

TEAMWORK Portsmouth College's team

Teams of youngsters from the college and Portsmouth College battled it out against firefighters and charity workers in the hope of winning a trophy and bragging rights.

The day was set up by Emsworth fire station watch manager Perry Dodgson and college staff in a bid to raise cash for Aurora New Dawn.

The charity supports people who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual violence.

A total of £500 was raised on the day thanks to donations from firefighters and sponsorship from students, their families and friends.

Stephen Ridge, 17, who studies public services at Portsmouth College, said: ‘It was a great workout.

‘I had never played wheelchair basketball before but I’ll definitely think about playing it again.

‘It was loads of fun and its been a privilege to help out a great cause and make a difference to people’s lives.’

Emsworth fire station’s team ran out as worthy winners of the four-a-side tournament after beating South Downs College 2-1 in the final.

Jack Till, 17, of Southdown Road, Cosham raised £85 in sponsorship. He said: ‘I had never tried this sport before.

‘For me, this event was about wanting to improve the lifestyles of people who have gone through a rough time.’

‘It was a brilliant day. Everyone has enjoyed themselves.’

Last year, a wheelchair basketball tournament with a different set of students at South Downs College helped to raise awareness for Hampshire Harriers Wheelchair Basketball Club.

Mr Dodgson said: ‘I thought about getting the fire service to do something active with young people in the community. The youth of today are future role models.

‘I feel that it is our duty to support them and help out great causes at the same time.’

He added: ‘The target now is to hold wheelchair basketball tournaments each term.’