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Podcast is allowing disability sports to take the limelight

 

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Teaming up: Disability Sport NI wheelchair basketball performance officer Phil Robinson (back) with Northern Ireland wheelchair basketball stars (from left) Conn Nagle, Ross Davidson and James MacSorley

Teaming up: Disability Sport NI wheelchair basketball performance officer Phil Robinson (back) with Northern Ireland wheelchair basketball stars (from left) Conn Nagle, Ross Davidson and James MacSorley

Teaming up: Disability Sport NI wheelchair basketball performance officer Phil Robinson (back) with Northern Ireland wheelchair basketball stars (from left) Conn Nagle, Ross Davidson and James MacSorley

The lockdown has forced sporting organisers to get creative with what they're doing, and at Disability Sport NI they've found themselves branching out into the world of podcasts.

The medium of podcasting has become much more popular over recent years and Phil Robinson, DSNI's wheelchair basketball performance officer, has taken the plunge during the coronavirus quarantine.

On April 8, Robinson launched The Lockdown Podcast along with GB wheelchair basketball star James MacSorley and DSNI's club development officer Danny Cooper, and it is now on its fourth episode.

Each week the trio welcome a disability sporting star and have a chat about what life is like while current restrictions are in place and how they're coping.

"It's been therapeutic. We're having a lot of fun, which I think is the most important thing because it comes across well," explained Robinson.

"I think the whole idea behind it was that we wanted to showcase the different characters within the sport. I like the idea to allow people more time to express themselves by asking lots of open-ended questions and let the podcast be shaped by the person we're interviewing.

"We've had a lot of great people on. James is on as co-host and he's amazing. He brings the talent to it in all honesty!"

The plan is for the podcast to keep going even once the restrictions are lifted and sport returns, as well as expanding it beyond wheelchair basketball.

"There's lots of interesting people out there, so we won't stick to the theme of wheelchair basketball. There's plenty of scope," added Robinson.

"In our first episode we talked about the fact we were going to expose the whole disability sport community in Northern Ireland and bring on plenty of characters who are unsung heroes and don't get much of the limelight."

It's filled the time well while Robinson and Cooper can't get out and about to meet their players due to the restrictions imposed by the government and while MacSorley is awaiting the restart of his league in Spain.

That doesn't mean Robinson is sitting around doing nothing, however. Behind the scenes, he and Cooper are still working away by keeping in touch with their players and ensuring that they are staying safe and healthy.

"From a professional standpoint we're not able to engage with the guys on the floor because of the restrictions, but our priority is the safety and well-being of the athletes and staff from a Disability Sport NI standpoint," said Robinson.

"We do weekly sessions with players in the development groups through Zoom as well, from video sessions to dynamic stretching to strength sessions. We do one-to-one with players as well, we want to make sure they aren't treating this as down time and that they need to stay on top.

"Sport NI, who have funded our programme, have been amazing, they've put the focus on making sure everyone is safe and okay, and our team across Disability Sport NI are working incredibly hard to make sure we're still engaging with people because we want people to stay active, stay at home and stay safe."

Like all other sports, wheelchair basketball has been severely affected by the coronavirus, but Robinson is confident that it can emerge as strong as before.

The school games for the Under-18 pathway squad were cancelled and the Under-25s had an exhibition match lined up against GB's Invictus Games squad, while the maiden season of the NI Wheelchair Basketball League is on hold.

"Everyone within the community has been very supportive of what we're doing and we're all looking forward to getting back once the health agencies allow that to happen," said Robinson.

"Our health and well-being of people is paramount and that's what we're focused on. We're just making sure people are home, staying safe and respecting social distancing. We'll get to where we need to be in the future."

Belfast Telegraph