Bourne End Junior Sports Club has, like many organisation, been affected financially by the pandemic. As we come out of local lockdown, I decided to raise some vital funds to buy new equipment to create a better experience for the kids who attend the club.
My son recently started playing Basketball at Bourne End Junior Sports Club. This club has offered sporting opportunities to youngsters in Bourne End and the surrounding villages for over 50 years. I can remember playing table tennis there in the ’80s.
The hall is well aired and offers eight basketball hoops for the kids to use. One court running end-to-end of the hall, and three smaller courts are reaching across. There are about 14 kids in total who take part in this Friday night event, and it looks like everyone is going to have fun!
Coach David is inflating some balls while others are being used on the court. Thrown at the wall, passed across to mates and shots taken. I notice some of the balls, quite a lot, look a bit dated and glancing at the hoops, there are a few without nets.
Like music to my ears
The sound of the balls hitting the floor brings back poignant memories of when I played for Aylesbury Aces with teammates Clare Strange, Matt Sealy, Jo Jayaratne, Nigel Smith (RIP), Tony Wollard (RIP), Ade Adepitan and Andy Blake – you might not recognise any of these names, but in the world of Wheelchair Basketball, all these players were well respected when representing their country in the sport.
After leaving the first night, my son mentioned how much he enjoyed playing. I check the BEJSC website to gain information about the club’s basketball sessions and see they need volunteers. Could this be something I could be involved with? I do not have a coaching qualification, but I have experience teaching wheelchair skills and running events for paediatric groups for the Spinal Injuries Charity Back Up. The actual wording on the website says ‘Assistant Section Leader’. I apply, and I’m in!
The first week with me volunteering arrives. I get involved straight away, supporting coach David with drills, helping the kids find a good direction to shoot at 45 degrees and then refereeing a game for the last half hour of the night. Everyone looks like they have tried hard and had a good time.
But, the equipment needs updating. It’s had good use and is reaching the end of its life. I believe there is a saying; ‘a sportsman should never blame his kit‘… well, in this instance, he can! I mention the balls’ condition to coach David, and he picks one up and holds it aloft. ‘This one is at least 30 years old; I remember using this when I was 10‘, he says. This comes as a bit of a shock to me, but I suppose it’s good for the environment to ‘make things last‘.
I want to do something about this; I noticed on the BEJSC website they are pushing a fundraising event called The 2.6 Challenge.
What can I do?
Thinking hard, what can I do that’s 2.6 related? I know I can push 2.6 miles around my village to raise some funds, but that’s not very far; I can do that easily! How about I do 2.6 miles for 26 days? This will be 18.2 miles per week, or 67.6 miles over 26 days, on top of all the usual pushing I do during my day, the school run, putting the bins out, playing in the garden etc.
This feels good; it is going to be rewarding. Not only am I paraplegic, a business owner, husband and father, but I also have a heart condition – I have a stent in an artery after suffering a heart attack in post-op recovery several years back. This may not seem like any ‘too big a thing‘ for “average Jo”, but I certainly know I have a piece of metal in my heart. Sometimes a badly manoeuvred transfer or an awkward reach for something gives me discomfort and concern that something is not right. But with careful eating, movement and limited red wine and dark chocolate, things are Ok.
I decided to start this challenge on the first day of June. July and August will be too hot, and having a Spinal Cord Injury means I can’t regulate my body temperature; if it’s hot, I get hot; if it’s cold, I freeze – in our house, my son walks around in shorts and t-shirt, my wife will have a thin top on, and I wear three layers… In spring!
During the month of June, if you see me wheeling around, pushing myself, can I get a ‘BEEP BEEP, or an Oi Oi?’
All funds raised will go to BEJSC. Monies will primarily invest in new balls, cones, nets, and hoops for the Basketball section. Whatever is left will go towards other sections, such as replacing badminton posts, climbing ropes, life vests for canoeing, etc. Sports equipment always needs updating, but especially so with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the club’s income.
If you are interested in donating to my Challenge, please clink the link below.