New documentary highlights man's mission to grow the sport of wheelchair basketball

  • Watch a video report by Rob Halden-Pratt

A new documentary is hoping to highlight the sport of wheelchair basketball and encourage more people to get involved.

Steel Spirits follows the Essex-based High Rollers and the work of club organiser and coach Jack Gibbs.

Jack, 32, from Chelmsford, was paralysed after he was knocked from his moped when he was 16 by a car being driven on the wrong side of the road.

The High Rollers prepare for a game Credit: Electric Copper Films

The then teenager took up basketball as a means of aiding his recovery and now the sport has become an important part of his life.

In the film, produced by Electric Copper Films, he explains how the sport enabled him to travel and fulfill his own ambitions.

He has now dedicated himself to getting more disabled people involved in wheelchair basketball.

The club attracts players from across Essex and Suffolk and many of the team are full of praise for the work Jack has done with the club.

Team member Mason Billington said:

"Jack's the sort of ringleader he sort of brings the rabble together or tries to organise us and gets us out of the house, like arranges all these trips abroad and that and he's an awesome guy, he's just so in love with the sport and wants everyone eklse to enjoy it as well."

The film follows the team during the league campaign and as they coped with being hit by lockdown. It's clear how important the club is to some of those on the team.

Charlie McIntyre in action for the High Rollers Credit: Electric Copper Films

Charlie McIntyre was a talented footballer and was part of the Chelsea youth set up before he was diagnosed with Perthes' disease.

Perthes' disease disrupts the blood supply to the head of the thigh bone causing the bone to deteriorate.

Norfolk wheelchair tennis star Alfie Hewett and Northamptonshire Paralympic swimmer Ellie Robinson also have the same condition.

The diagnosis meant Charlie had to give up on his football dreams but now basketball is fulfilling his sporting ambitions. he says it's been important stress reliever for him.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Alex Gerrish. Alex suffered a severe spinal injury after a cycling accident. He said he thought he'd never be able to play sport with friends again.

"When you get in a wheelchair you can't really compete with your mates anymore so I went to basketball it was nice to be able to smash, bash and crash people and play against people of your own level "

The film is also hoping that as well as encouraging more people to play and watch the games, it can also attract funding.

Fundamentally the only differences between wheelchair basketball and that played by able bodied players is the cost. Competitors play on a standard sized basketball court. The height of the hoop is the same as in the able-bodied game.

However, it's a whole different ball game when it comes to equipment as producer Tina Emmett-Coen explained:

The High Rollers have now started a crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise £10,000 to help with training and facility costs.