One thing that is always talked about on Open Days and Interview Days for sports students coming to Worcesteter is the amazing facilities we have here at the University.
The University Arena is perhaps the pinnacle of these facilities, as has been highlighted in earlier blogs! It not only provides us with an international standard sporting facility at the University itself, but has allowed for more of a focus on disability sport, becoming the home of the Great Britain Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team, and opening the door for our Sports Coaching Science with Disability Sport degree pathway.
So when this fantastic Arena was first being talked about amongst all us students and members of staff, there was a real excitement about the possibilities it could bring to us as a University, and all the events we could hold in this dazzling new place! (And I mean literally dazzling…have you tried looking at it in the sunlight?!?!)
Well, I am pleased to report to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the Arena has not disappointed… and has already made history, by hosting..
University of Worcester team
THE FIRST EVER British Wheelchair Basketball University Championships!!
Now, for those of you who weren’t there, I will do my best to briefly describe to you the events that took place, as I was lucky enough to work as Sheffield Hallam’s team liaison for the majority of the day, and be the announcer for the final!
The inaugural tournament was made up of five universities, with teams from the Universities of: Northampton, Durham, Nottingham Trent, Sheffield Hallam, and… no points for guessing this one… Worcester!
The tournament itself started with a league-based round robin structure, meaning everyone played everyone before the final standings were decided. Then the two bottom placed teams, fourth and fifth, would play each other for a chance to play the first placed team in one semi-final, with the teams that finished second and third facing up in semi-final number two, with these two matches deciding the finalists.
All reaaaally straightforward, right? Or perhaps I didn’t explain it too well… it made sense on the day, I promise you!!
Anyway, the first round of the tournament itself was played in a great spirit, with all teams battling hard for that top placed spot that would see them straight through to the first semi-final.
There was a huge range of experiences and abilities on display, from the heroic Sheffield Hallam team who had never played together before this tournament and still ended up finishing third after a disappointing first match, to the Worcester team housing a handful of internationals, including GB women Sophie Carrigill, Jordana Bartlett and Ella Beaumont.
Though this difference in experience was apparent on occasion, it only added to the spirit and feel of the whole tournament, highlighting one of the main features that makes University Wheelchair Basketball so great: the inclusive nature allowing both able-bodied and disability players to take part.
The entire day was full of not only extraordinary amounts of athleticism and skill on display, but great sportsmanship, team work and determination as well, with more than one instance of competitive banter on the court being hugged out post-match.
It was a great advert not only for the University Arena, proving itself more than capable of hosting such a big event, but for British Wheelchair Basketball on the whole, displaying some of the sport’s finest athletes and qualities in a fiercely-fought tournament.
Once 4 o’clock came round and all the round-robin matches had been played, and the semi-finals contested, there were only two matches left to decide who got their hands on the first ever University Championship medals:
The third place play-off between Durham and Sheffield Hallam, and the grand final, between Worcester and Nottingham Trent.
With both matches being played simultaneously on parallel courts, there was a phenomenal amount of talent and great viewing on display for the spectators, and after four quarters of sheer grit, the medalists were decided!
Third place went to the inexperienced but determined Sheffield Hallam, with commiserations to Durham and Northampton, who both narrowly missed out on their third place medals and were fantastic all day.
Second place went to Nottingham Trent, who had a brilliant tournament, beating all teams but Worcester, and showing an incredible amount of skill in some close matches earlier on in the day.
Which means… First place went to…. The University of Worcester!! Who had demonstrated a huge amount of team spirit and heart all day, with five different scorers in the final alone!
Once all of these places had been decided and the dust had settled, the medals ceremony took place, and some final pictures were taken not only of the award-winning teams, but all participants who had made history by taking part in the inaugural University Championships.
It marked a great end to an even better day, showcasing not only what Wheelchair Basketball and our University Arena are all about, but exactly why BUCS need to take this event on in years to come as well!…. hint hint!
*Photos courtesy of Paul Beard