Wheelchair Basketball is a game not for the faint hearted. Grit, strength and resilience, all characteristics of a strong mindset and traits of a highly successful individual are required for this fast-paced sport.
Along with passion and dedication, 17-year-old Year 12 student, Nathan Simpson, has what it takes to be an elite player in one of the most popular sports for athletes with
Nathan was born nine weeks early and has a disability. He has Cerebral Palsy – Spastic Diplegia, which means that his legs are affected and this limits his mobility.
Nathan has proved that he is at the top of his game. Training with ‘Adelaide Thunder’, the state’s team in the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL), for the last 12 months and enjoying every minute of it.
Hoping one day to make selections and play as an official member, Nathan’s dream has now become a reality, debuting with the ‘Adelaide Thunders’ in two games on the first weekend of July.
Coach of the team, David Gould, a Paralympian who has competed at numerous Paralympic Games as part of Australia’s men’s national wheelchair basketball team and taking home gold as part of the winning 1996 team, recognised Nathan’s talent and commitment to the sport and offered Nathan a position on the team.
“When I was approached to be part of the team in October last year I was surprised given that I was only 17 years old,” Nathan said.
“At the same time I knew what a good opportunity this was and I was ready for the challenges that were ahead of me”.
“The games were on a Saturday night and Sunday morning and I got around 5 minutes court time for each game as an introduction to how fast-paced the game really is.”
Nathan will continue to work hard and develop his skills and body strength by training with ‘Adelaide Thunder’ two nights a week at the same time playing social wheelchair basketball one night of the week.
“The training sessions run anywhere between two and three hours each night. They can be physically demanding and there are a lot of aches and pains the next day. As a rookie, I have had a lot of support from my teammates and coach to help me get through those tough times at training.” Nathan said.
The 2017 season commenced in May and Nathan has ample opportunity to take to the court in the 18-game season to build-up his game time and compete alongside experienced players and professionals in the sport.
“The last 12 months I have learnt the difference between playing this game at a professional level compared to a social level. I have worked hard and I am lucky to have had some of the best players and coaches to learn from,” Nathan said.
“It has always been a dream of mine to one day play wheelchair basketball in the Paralympics Games. Playing for the state team is the first of many steps to getting there.”
Nathan first took to the court at 12 years of age when he attended junior wheelchair sports sessions, held by Paralympian Tim Maloney, at Christian Brothers College in the city. Nathan’s passion for the sport grew and so did his determination to one day represent his state and ultimately his country.
Now in its 25th season, the NWBL has seen some great names on the courts and go on to play for Australia and other International Leagues. Nathan is now well on his way to becoming one of them.
Mrs Amanda Fryer Director of Communications and Engagement