Sparrows, or Hackney Sparrows started back in late 80s and officially played in the national league in 1987. Amir, the head coach and founding member, remembers 5 different generations of players, many of which went on to represent GB teams, or other national teams or become celebrities.
This longest existing London wheelchair basketball club and a registered disability charity started with a small group of people with disabilities in Hackney. The members came from a range of communities from all areas in London. Wheelchair basketball before Sparrows, was limited in range of participants. Sparrows were the first multi-cultural wheelchair basketball club in the UK and attracted players from both genders and ages from all black and community ethnic backgrounds. Sparrows were well known for bringing in most excluded grass-root players into the game, people that traditionally had little chance in other teams.
Two of the GB captains came from Sparrows, as did many other stars of GB. Over the years, Sparrows won more than 100 international tournaments and as many within UK. This was despite a poor level of funding and using older style wheelchairs. However, the game has become more expensive in the recent years and in the absence of proper funding and sponsorship, our activities were more limited to bringing up grass-root players and introducing the game to many schools and public events to share the pleasure of the game with wider groups of people, with or without disabilities.
To address lack of funding, we introduced London Sparrows back in 2010 as a different setting, to deal with the League and its costs while Sparrows (Hackney Sparrows) focused on the charitable aspects and working with schools. However, despite positive support of some of the ex-players, in the absence of any meaningful funding activity, this did not work, and Sparrows followed the old ways and aim to work with grass-roots, youth and most excluded groups of people while some League activities have been retained. We will continue offering training and working with schools and youth at different venues and recommend the right teams to the trainees for further development if required.
Currently, some of our juniors and female players join forces with clubs that have got specific teams for the league. Hackney Sparrows (Sparrows) remain active in the league with 2 teams in 2018-2019 season.
Sparrows campaigned hard to include able-bodied trainees into the league and have been involved in setting up development league, allowing such players participate in the league. Sparrows won the first two development Leagues at the turn of the millennium and since then have had two more successful campaigns. We have another development team introduced to allow new players with or without disabilities to compete. Sparrows continue working with schools, youth centers and all other possible settings to introduced this most loved game to all who wish to have a go and to share this fun-packed sports with all, as far as our resources allow.