Twelve-year-old Zane O’Hoistin from Drogheda was introduced to wheelchair basketball at the age of five when his mum, Lorraine, brought him to a local IWA Sports Club. Participating in sport has helped him build confidence and focus on what he can do.
“Zane’s first experience of sport came through IWA Sports Club in Dundalk,” says Lorraine. “They have Monday night sessions where children can try out various sports. Zane was immediately drawn to basketball and once he started playing regularly I noticed how much happier he was. He wasn’t as frustrated. Instead of always asking, ‘Why can’t I do this or that?’ his focus turned to what he was able to do.”
Basketball has taught me that if you don’t try, you won’t achieve anything.
By the time Zane reached second class, his best friend at school, Tighe, had started playing wheelchair basketball too. “Tighe is able-bodied but he loved the sport and as a result their friendship has really grown over the years. When you watch them play, it’s amazing. They know exactly what the other one is going to do next.”
Zane and Tighe now play on the North East Thunders Basketball team. Zane says, “While we play for the same team, there is a healthy level of competition between us too! Basketball has taught me that if you don’t try, you won’t achieve anything.”
Lorraine encourages other parents of children with disabilities to introduce sport as early as possible. “When your child first starts playing, you think, ‘Maybe the changing facilities won’t be accessible, maybe they’ll be left on the side-lines, maybe they won’t be able to participate. But that’s not the case. There is no exclusion. IWA’s coaches are so good. They will guide the kids and help them build confidence and belief in themselves.”
She continues, “Remember the most important thing is that they are included. Being part of a team is a great thing for any child. And when they are playing, my advice is don’t look! I used to jump up every time Zane bumped into someone or fell out of his wheelchair. But he doesn’t want his mother making a fuss. He wants to get back up and back in the game! That’s one of the things that sport teaches you!”