Causeway Chronicle

Mayor welcomes Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball team to Cloonavin

Members of Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball team, pictured at Cloonavin at a recent Mayoral reception (l-r back row) Ethan Pollock, Michael Sweeney, Daniel Black, Natalie Kinney (Team Vice Captain), Youngest Club Member Sarah Logan, Niamh Galway, George Wallace (Team Coach); (l-r front row) Lisa Boyle, The Mayor, Councillor Steven Callaghan, Stephen Heron (Club Chairman) and Helen Logan (Club Secretary).

The Mayor has welcomed members of the Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball team to a special reception in Councils Civic Headquarters, Cloonavin. 

The team hosted the Disability Sport NI League opening matches in Coleraine’s Ulster University Sports Complex in September and have enjoyed a very successful season so far. 

As they prepare for a key match in the league, the players had the opportunity to speak with the Mayor about how the sport has grown tremendously in Northern Ireland over the last few years. 

The Mayor Councillor, Steven Callaghan who was in attendance for their first league match said: “I was delighted to meet with the team members, as I had enjoyed supporting them at the start of the Disability Sport NI League season, and it was fantastic to have another chance to chat with them and hear how they’re getting on.

“I am very supportive of the sport of Wheelchair Basketball and from speaking with the team it is obvious that they are all committed sports persons with so much passion and commitment for the game. 

“I was delighted to hear that one of their youngest members, Ethan Pollock from Portballintrae, has already been headhunted for the Northern Ireland sports academy. Congratulations on this fantastic achievement and good luck to all of the team for the rest of the season.”

The Causeway Giants are keen for applicants for a new junior team, with

coach George Wallace adding: “I have been involved in the sport myself since I was six years old, and I got my coaching qualification several years ago. The sport is not just for those people who want to be top tier athletes but also for those who want to get out of the house once a week.”

The team meets each Wednesday at Coleraine’s Ulster University Sports complex and Chairman of the team Stephen Heron is in no doubt that the sport is gaining momentum within Northern Ireland.

“There was only ever one team here since 1992 and now there are seven and that’s amazing, it’s such a growing sport not just in Northern Ireland but worldwide and we hope to continue to compete overseas.” Stephen explained.

“Causeway Giants covers from Larne all the way round to Portrush. If you are interested in the sport and you’re not covered in our catchment area, we will get you in touch with the relevant team, as there are seven teams in Northern Ireland, or we can put you in touch with Disability Sport NI.”

The Disability Sport NI, Wheelchair Basketball League will culminate in a match on Saturday 25th March 2023 at Ulster University, Jordanstown and the team are firmly focussed on a top 3 finish. 

Team Captain, James Wilson said: “We are playing really good basketball at the minute, and you can see real improvement with everybody on the court, which is the main thing. In our upcoming match in December, we actually play against the team we are level with in the league table, so that is going to be a tough game, but we are ready for it.”

Many of the team members – who describe each other as family – have had challenges in their lives and have found the sport of wheelchair basketball gives them focus. Team Vice Captain, Natalie Kinney said: “I was injured when I was 17 in a road traffic accident. For years I was doing nothing and then I looked for something and found the Causeway Giants club. The sport and team have been good for my head and happiness. It also brings you a social aspect as well and means you’re not sitting in the house. I’m proud to be part of the team.”

The team train each Wednesday from 8:30pm – 10:00pm at Ulster University Sports Complex, Coleraine. Causeway Giants is looking to attract applicants for their new youth team and already have two young members, Sarah Logan (aged 13) and Ethan Pollock (aged 14).

Ethan, who was recently selected for the NI Youth Academy said: “I really enjoy being in the team and for me it’s the chance to get some exercise in and get out and socialise with people. If anyone is looking to come along and join, they definitely should, as it’s a great opportunity for getting out and about.”

Club members fundraise throughout the year to help with the purchase of equipment for team members. They have recently been able to purchase chairs for juniors through support from Disability Sport Northern Ireland. 

If you are interested in joining the adult Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball Team or if you are a parent or guardian of someone aged 8 years and above who would be interested in joining the youth team, you can contact them via their main Facebook page.

You can also read more about league fixtures via Disability Sport Northern Ireland via their website:

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Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball team and club members pictured alongside the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Steven Callaghan, at a recent reception in Civic Headquarters Cloonavin. 

The Mayor, Councillor Steven Callaghan pictured alongside team vice-captain Natalie Kinney.

Members of the Causeway Giants Wheelchair Basketball Team pictured at Council’s Civic Headquarters, Cloonavin (l-r) Lisa Boyle, Ryan Archibald, the Mayor, Councillor Steven Callaghan, Natalie Kinney (Vice Captain), Daniel Black and Ross Atkinson.

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Maurice Bradley