Norfolk wheelchair basketball team in plea for votes

A new Norfolk wheelchair basketball team for adults is appealing for people to cast their vote and help it to win nearly �40,000 of equipment.

The Norfolk Elite Wheelchair Basketball Club is in the running for �39,600 of Big Lottery Funding in the Jubilee People's Millions.

The club was only set up in October 2010, since although there was a youth team in the county there had been no adult section.

The money is needed to buy 10 new specialist basketball wheelchairs, and for today only the public are being asked to vote for which project they want to win funding.

For player Stefan Self, 21, who lives off Valpy Avenue in Mile Cross, Norwich, the team has given him his first chance to play competitive sport since he was involved in a car accident in November 2009.

The former Taverham High School pupil broke his back in two places and fractured it in five places, which damaged his spinal cord.

He said: 'It would mean everything to everyone who plays in the team to get these chairs and we'll be trying hard to get as many votes as we can.

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'I was never really into normal basketball before but I really enjoy playing it now.'

Mr Self's mother, Karen Surtees, a medical secretary at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital who lives in Easton, said: 'Stefan loved playing football before the accident and this gives him a sport back.'

Michael Ebanks, the club's head coach, said the team was currently borrowing some specialist wheelchairs, which cost around �3,000 each, from the national league and which would have to be returned soon.

He said: 'Very few people in wheelchairs managed to get the opportunity to do sport or play competitive sport, so this is a great way to keep fit.'

Through the Jubilee People's Millions, the Big Lottery Fund will be making 60 awards of up to �60,000 to new projects that will take place in 2012 and improve local places or the lives of people in the community.

The public will vote on who gets the money, so the ideas need to capture the public's imagination and persuade them to vote.

Norfolk Elite will face the Young Lives' Get Creative, Get Afloat project in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, in this evening's vote.

Norfolk Elite will feature on today's ITV Anglia Tonight programme at 6pm. Voting is between 9am and midnight today but the number to call is not being unveiled today and will be available on the official website, or at Norfolk Elite's website at http://norfolkelitewbc.wordpress.com

kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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