WHEELCHAIR basketball players are dreaming of establishing a new team in Inverness which could compete against the best players in the country.
Highland Wheelchair Basketball are aiming to set up a new team which can compete in the national wheelchair basketball league next season.
With only four players at present they are looking for new recruits to help create a Highland regional team.
Bryan Stevens (32) a disabled athlete who suffers from spina bifida and has competed in a number of sports including swimming and athletics, played wheelchair basketball for Bristol while studying in England.
After being impressed by the standard of the sport south of the border, he was dismayed that there was no club in Inverness. But that is something he is determined to change after establishing the club, based at Inverness Leisure, in October.
"After playing for Bristol I moved back to Inverness and found there was nothing," he said.
"I started doing wheelchair racing but suffered a bad injury which prevented me doing that, so I decided to get into wheelchair basketball and ever since I’ve pursued starting a team in Inverness. Down in England it is such a massive sport and I don’t see why it couldn’t be in Scotland. We just need to get the word out there."
The club have received assistance to purchase anti-tip wheelchairs which can accelerate quickly, with guards to protect players’ feet in collisions.
Stevens said interest is growing in the sport and potential players did not have to be disabled to take part.
"There is a misconception that you have to be disabled to play wheelchair basketball, but you don’t," he said.
"You can be able-bodied, have knee injuries, bone injuries or you can be recovering from cancer.
"Anyone from amputees to those with paralysis and without disabilities are welcome to take part."
Daniel Pratt (29) had a hip replacement after being diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma disease when he was nine years old.
He previously played wheelchair basketball in Aberdeen and is determined to help the new club in Inverness play more competitive games.
"I played with a team called Grampian Flyers and when I moved to Inverness I got in touch with Bryan as we were desperate to get playing again," he said.
"I have metalwork from my hip to my knee and since that was done I haven’t been able to play basketball. But meeting up with the guys and playing the sport we love so much levels the playing field for me. We are all in the sport together.
"My previous club set up the development league in Scotland and it would be great to get a team of a similar standard in Inverness. It’s early days but we’ve got great ambitions."
Student Mitchell Murdoch (20) is not disabled but discovered the club as part of his college studies and is also keen to help the sport grow in Inverness.
"I was studying a module about disability sport so we had to find somewhere to coach with disabled athletes," he said.
"I love basketball and it was a good opportunity to link the two things together Ever since then I have come along and have really enjoyed it."
Five teams play in the CliniMed Wheelchair Basketball League, including St Mirren Warriors, Lothian Phoenix, Women Warriors, Dundee Dragons and Grampian Flyers.
Stevens said he was optimistic that Inverness would increase the number of teams in the league to six before long.
"I would like to get the club affiliated into playing against other teams across Scotland and look to get the team into the national league. We just need to find the people."
For more information visit the Highland Wheelchair Basketball Facebook site.