Berri basketball disability program highlights need for inclusive team sports

A regional South Australian basketball pilot program is giving players of all abilities the opportunity to play and improve their skills.

The Berri Blazers Basketball Club, based in the state’s Riverland region, launched the Berri Blazers Disability Program for players of all abilities this season.

It was offered as a pilot program after some players missed out on a spot in the club’s teams for the Riverland intertown competition.

Coach and club member Chrissy Eleftheriadis said it was originally planned as a six player, three-on-three program but quickly grew to 19 players.

That demand has demonstrated the need for sporting clubs to offer inclusive options.

Players dribble ball on an indoor basketball court.
Players of all ages and abilities have signed up to play basketball in the Berri Blazers Disability Program.(Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff)

Pathway to competition

Eight coaches volunteer with the program, including Jake Wade, whose younger brothers Trey and Finn play in the team.

“Having the opportunity to coach a program like this is great, I’ve seen a lot of improvements in the players and confidence wise as well,” Mr Wade said.

Each Wednesday night players work on skills and end with a game with modified rules, including a limit of three goals per player to encourage teamwork.

It is hoped the program may may also become a pathway for some players to join domestic and intertown competitions.

“One of our coaches takes away the players who are ready to really look at playing in a competition and he works on extending their skills and knowledge,” Ms Eleftheriadis said.

A chance to step up

One of those players is Loxton High School student Logan Worbey, 16, who has gained confidence as one of the more experienced players on the court.

“At school I wasn’t really in the best team, no one really wanted me to play with them because I was not that good, and I was always put in the team down,” Logan said.

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Logan Worbey throws in during a game. The 16-year-old has enjoyed a leadership role within the team.(ABC Riverland: Sam Bradbrook)

Now he is enjoying a leadership role and helping other players develop their skills and confidence.

There are plans for the program to continue next season and to build opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy match play by offering a domestic competition.

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