Wednesday, 04 February 2015
The countdown to Worcester’s 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships is well and truly underway after the city’s spectacular cathedral welcomed local and international dignitaries for the tournament’s draw.
The Championships will take place at the University of Worcester Arena between August 28 and September 6, and will see Great Britain’s men’s and women’s teams compete for the European titles – and a qualifying spot for the Rio 2016 Paralympics – in front of a home crowd.
All seven women’s teams – Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands - will play each other in a round-robin format in the group stages.
The twelve men’s teams found out their initial opponents in Friday’s draw, with Great Britain, who will be attempting to win a record-breaking third consecutive European title, being placed in Pool A along with Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, France and Germany.
Pool B is made up of the Netherlands, Turkey, Israel, Switzerland, Sweden and Italy.
Friday’s draw also saw attendees at the Cathedral treated to a demonstration of wheelchair basketball, and interviews with key figures including Great Britain men’s coach and captain, Haj Bhania and Terry Bywater, and women’s coach and captain, Miles Thompson and Sophie Carrigill.
Sophie, a University of Worcester student, says that the draw has whetted the appetite ahead of the tournament.
“I really enjoyed being part of the draw,” she explains. “The Cathedral was a great venue, and the event really proved how the entire city of Worcester will get behind the tournament and support us.
“It was great to see so many members of the public there, getting behind the event and expressing interest in finding out more about our sport. We look forward to welcoming them again for the Championships themselves.”
Sophie and her Great Britain team-mates, who won bronze at their last European Championships, step up their preparations next week, when they travel to Japan to face Australia, Canada and Japan.
During the European Championships, locals will have the opportunity to both watch high quality sport and contribute to the tournament in a number of voluntary roles.
The Head of the University’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, Mick Donovan, is confident that the entire region will get behind the Championships.
“The attendance at the draw, and the huge crowds that we have seen for previous wheelchair basketball fixtures at the University Arena, prove that there is a fantastic appetite for this tournament,” he says.
“We are delighted to be bringing the continent’s best players and teams together in Worcester later this year for what we are sure will be a wonderful event, and one which will really capture the imagination of the local community.”