Hethersett youngsters inspired by former wheelchair basketball champion

Youngsters got the chance to discover what it is like to play wheelchair basketball when a former champion visited their school.

Gordon Perry, winner of the first London Wheelchair marathon in 1983, took his Wheelchair Basketball Experience to Hethersett Junior School yesterday.

The event, organised by teaching assistant Julia Alden, saw children aged between nine and 11 have a go at the sport.

It also gave young Ben Everett, nine, who is in a wheelchair and plays for wheelchair basketball team Norwich Lowriders, the chance to show off his skills and moves.

Headteacher Andy Whittle said: 'We see ourselves as an inclusive school and we have wheelchair users. Today helps to show the importance of inclusion and how the Paralympic Games is something we should be supporting.'

Mr Perry, who has played wheelchair basketball for 32 years and used to coach the GB junior and women's teams, first taught the youngsters how to control the wheelchair and pass the ball before they got to play a game.He said the children did 'amazingly'. 'We've got the Paralympic Games next year and when the kids see what it's like to play in a wheelchair and have that experience, then they are more likely to watch it,' said Mr Perry, who lost his left leg while serving for the army in 1976. 'It's a great leveller. It's great for Ben's friends to see what it's like for him.'

Ben, who has muscular dystrophy, said it was 'good fun' playing wheelchair basketball at school.

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Fiona Whiting, extended schools coordinator for the Hethersett cluster, said: 'The children have had a great time.

'We've told them about equality and respect as part of the Olympic values and teamwork and excellence.'

Hethersett as a village has been getting into the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and has its own Olympic committee.

It will find out if the 2012 Olympic Torch will go through the village as part of next year's torch relay later this month.

Have you got an Olympics story? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk