The Bolton Bulls wheelchair basketball club provides wheelchair basketball to people of all ages, disabilities and gender from all over the North West of England including Bolton, Bury, Blackburn, Wigan and Stockport.
So it’s that time again, where Chairman Steve turns over the power of the Bulls-cave to the “Robin” of the operation. Yes, it’s me, Michael. (You know me by now, right?)
Bolton Bulls has been chosen by a cluster of local primary schools for their M.I.L.E. award project this year. The M.I.L.E. award, (Making Independent Learning Exciting) is a project undertaken every summer term by a cluster of ten schools with the objective to raise money for a charity, relating to a chosen theme. This year’s theme is the Olympics and Paralympics, so that’s where Bolton Bulls come in.
In return for all their hard work, we go into the schools and wax lyrical about both Bolton Bulls and wheelchair basketball in general; explaining more about the sport and why it’s important to keep clubs such as ours running and the importance of funds. So after Andy, and the duo of Coach Jim and Jack had presented assemblies at various schools earlier in the week, it came the turn of Chairman Steve and myself to do our best to be a positive influence on the younglings of Bolton.
We were extremely nervous, and anyone that knows me personally knows that putting me in charge of impressionable young minds is not a good idea; so at least for the first presentation, I decided to keep my mouth shut. Instead taking charge of the technical parts (a.k.a. pressing play on the videos) and being the ‘stooge’ in the practical demos. Essentially, I was the “Teller” to Chairman Steve’s “Penn”. (I do hope at least some of you understand that reference.) It went remarkably well, and the “training montage” of the Bulls (sadly, no Rocky music) even drew some “oohs” and “aahs” from the children at St. Theresa’s. Some of them stayed behind after the presentation to have a closer look at (and a little go in) a sports chair. After making some tweaks based on feedback received from the teachers and Sacha, (a.k.a. Mrs. Bulls, who was our entourage for the day) we headed for our second assembly at Ladywood school. I personally was feeling a lot more confident at this point, having gotten one under my belt and it not being nearly as terrifying as I expected.
This, it turned out, would be a schoolboy error. Before we even got started our video clips refused to work, which left us with some large holes to fill. A Plan B was quickly formulated just in time to prevent Chairman Steve and myself metaphorically birthing a litter of very nervous kittens. Thankfully, the videos sprang to life just before we started and the presentation went without a hitch. I even managed to talk my way through a video clip featuring the Great Britain wheelchair basketball team, and add a little to Chairman Steve’s “What wheelchair basketball can do for you?” section.
Now comes the bit that I tweeted about on my personal twitter account (in other words, some of you will already have heard this bit); we opened the floor to questions and after a nervous pause, that felt way longer than it actually was, a hand went up at the back of the room. A little girl walked to the front and asked in a meek little voice: “Can I play wheelchair basketball?” Dear readers, if I achieve nothing else in wheelchair basketball, it will all be worth it, for that moment. By the time we reached the third school, (Masefield) we were getting the hang of this presentation malarky, and we fielded the most questions of the day, which I hope we gave insightful answers too. All in all it was a very long day; but speaking from a personal point of view, a very rewarding one. Certainly, Chairman Steve can add; “Gave Michael the confidence to talk to several hundred school children” to his “What can wheelchair basketball do for you?” section. On behalf of Bolton Bulls I’d like to thank all the schools involved in the MILE award for their hard work and fund-raising efforts. If you’d like to help, check out the Ebay page, there’s lots of one-of-a-kind signed items to be had. Once again, thanks for reading. Michael #8