How Sheffield’s ‘incredible’ sporting facilities are helping more athletes secure success

In the reception area of the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, a roll of honour is on display listing all of Team GB’s athletes who competed in the London Olympic Games in 2012.

Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 16:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 18:15 pm

From Sheffield’s very-own Jessica Ennis through to Team GB’s table tennis team, the list includes dozens of athletes.

And now the city’s ‘incredible’ facilities could play a part in yet another sporting success as the country’s wheelchair basketball team, who train in the city, prepare for the European Championships.

Team GB, who have their own court and facilities at the English Institute of Sport, will fly out to Poland later this month in the hope of at least making the semi-finals, which would see them qualify for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Lee Manning in action at the EIS in Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And the players and their head coach have all praised the standard of facilities they have at the Attercliffe site in helping the team get into the best possible shape ahead of the tournament.

Gregg Warburton, from Leigh, has been playing the sport for 12 years and is now a professional for CP Mideba in Spain.

Gregg, aged 22, said: “As you can see the facilities are pretty phenomenal. We were previously based in Worcester and that was really good but this is just a different level.

Team GB head coach Haj Bhania. Picture: Chris Etchells

“We have got our own court, office, and use of the gym and café so everything is under one roof.”

The team has been based at the EIS since September 2017 and is in the middle of a training camp before flying to Walbrzych, Poland, where the championships will begin on August 30.

Gregg added: “Sheffield is really good. I’m a northerner and obviously not too far away but the facilities are just incredible so I hope we stay here for a long time.

“The facilities certainly help us prepare because it means we don’t have to worry about anything.”

Teammate Harry Brown, from Halifax, has played the sport since the age of eight and will begin his professional career in Spain in September.

He also praised Sheffield’s facilities in helping the team prepare as they look to follow up on winning the gold medal they won at the 2018 World Championships.

Harry, aged 25, said: “We are confident. The European Championships is one of the most competitive and there are four spots for Tokyo up for grabs.

“As long as we stick to our game and play our style of basketball we will be fine.”

Team GB head coach Haj Bhania said the team have held training camps at the EIS since June and have also held a warm-weather camp in Slovenia and competed in a tournament in Italy in July.

He said: “The facilities are incredible, they work brilliantly for us with the guys that come in. They’re fully accessible and all the staff here do a great job and we get access whenever we want.

“What it has given us is direct access to facilities – we get priority here so can use it whenever we want.”

Mr Bhania added that the draw of both Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield were attracting more players to the team.

He said: “We must have four or five players at Hallam and two or three at the University of Sheffield and we’re going to expand that as much as we can.

“The next thing is to generate interest from the business community, which could also be really important for us.”