Belfast Telegraph

Wheelchair basketball gives bike crash man Dean Doherty fresh bounce

By Donna Deeney

A Limavady man who was badly injured in a motocross accident two years ago says a newly formed wheelchair basketball team has given him a new lease of life.

Dean Doherty (26) was lucky to survive after smashing his spine when he came off his motorcycle in March 2016.

He spent eight months in hospital and has since had to learn how to live life in a wheelchair.

As part of his occupational therapy it was suggested Dean join new team the North West Wolves for children and adults in a similar situation.

He said he surprised himself at how much he took to the sport.

He has now called on more wheelchair users to give basketball a try.

He said: "I had never played or was even interested in any sport with a ball before.

"My interest was engines, but I thought I would give it a go and right from the start I thought it was brilliant.

"It took me a while to get on to it because it isn't the same as the way you use the wheelchair everyday.

"It took me a long time to come to terms at being in a wheelchair and, to be honest, there are still days that I struggle with it.

"There are days when I see people running about and I look at them and wish I could do that - but I am thankful that I am here at all because it wasn't very good for me at the start.

"I had to learn how to do everything all over again once I left hospital.

"For the entire eight months I was in hospital I had nurses looking after me and helping me with everything.

"Once I came out of hospital I had to learn how to do it all myself; it is like going back to be a child again."

Despite his injuries, Dean considers himself fortunate.

"Within seconds the life I had was messed up but I still think I am lucky to be able to bounce a ball, even if I am in a wheelchair," he added.

"I know there must be others like me who are sitting in the house thinking they wouldn't be able to play basketball but I really would encourage them to give a go.

"It has made a big difference to me.

"We've been practising every Thursday since February and I really look forward to that.

"We played our first match last week against the Knights and that was a whole new learning curve.

"The stuff I learnt from them was unbelievable and I will be a lot more prepared for the next match."

With the help of Disability Sport NI, the Wolves were set up by Trevor Lucy, who is also a wheelchair user.

There are now 20 players from the age of seven upwards making up the two teams fielded by the Wolves and they practise at Derry and Strabane Council's Foyle Arena in the Waterside.

With the first competitive game under their belts, Trevor said the club were keen to join the Irish League but needed sponsorship to help them on their way.

He said: "We are a brand new group of wheelchair users, both male and female, and the enthusiasm is absolutely fantastic.

"At the minute we use the specialist wheelchairs belonging to the Foyle Arena but we want to join the league so we will need to have our own wheelchairs to do that, which is why we would love to hear from any local or not local businesses interested in sponsoring us.

"We don't even have kits yet but we have just opened a competition to design a new kit and logo for us and we are raring to go.

"Wheelchair basketball is a really fast, exciting sport and the interest from people wanting to join us has been incredible.

"I would encourage anyone to come along to Foyle Arena on Thursday evenings if they want to find out more."

Belfast Telegraph

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