GOVERNMENT Minister Jeremy Hunt today (FRI) boosted Great Britain's build-up to the World Wheelchair Basketball Championships and praised The Federation of Small Businesses.
Norman Lay, Sponsorship Chairman (left), with Jeremy Hunt, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, and Tim Lazenby, managing director of FSB Insurance Service who are a supporter of the FSB World Championship Wheelchair Basketball Challenge.
The Minister for Culture, Media and Sport watched training at Birmingham ahead of the FSB World Championship Wheelchair Basketball Challenge at the Community Hall, National Indoor Arena, Birmingham and the MP also spoke at length to two teenage athletes, 15-year-old Madelaine Thompson (cor) from Castleton, Derbyshire, who is an amputee, and Frances Ray (cor), 16, from Wolverhampton, who was involved in a car accident when she was eight-years-old.
Later, Mr Hunt said: "Sponsorship of events like the one today are really important. I was talking earlier to the FSB who are sponsoring the tournament and it is brilliant that they did it. He added: "I set up my own business and ran it for 14 years before I went into politics. When you set up a business from scratch you realise how difficult it is to get things going."
"You also have a sense of achieving things against the odds. That is what you get in disability sport, incredible hope and optimism, determination and grit. Every single one of these people have to overcome obstacles that most people have never had to imagine in their lives and it is totally inspiring."
The tournament was part of GB's warm-up for the World Championships which started at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena on July 7 and runs to July 17. Charlie Bethel, the chief executive officer of The Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, said: "The FSB World Challenge is a perfect opportunity for the men and women to prepare for the World Championships. There are several world-class teams coming to the pre-event tournament and we'll use this opportunity to get the measure of some of our competitors, work on systems and get some vital match-practice in too. Without the support of the FSB, last season's European Championships at Stoke Mandeville would not have gone ahead. This year, it would not have been possible to stage the warm-up tournament without their continued support."
Mr Hunt being filmed by BBC Birmingham with Madelaine Thompson (left), the youngest member of the Great Britain women's team, and Francis Ray (right).
FSB National Sponsorship Chairman Norman Lay said: "We're delighted to further extend our sponsorship of the GBWBA. Our backing has allowed the GB men and women to make sure they are in top form for the World Championships
Mr Lay, underlined why the FSB, the UK's leading business organisation, was continuing its support for wheelchair basketball.
He said: "At the FSB we fight for the cause of small businesses and we're now backing two of Britain's under-funded teams to help them continue in the quest to become world Champions. In fact, the FSB's association with the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association goes back a long way. In 1971 its members stepped in to fund the first-ever Paralympic Games at Stoke Mandeville, home of British Wheelchair Basketball. Last year, the FSB rescued the European Championships once again at the same venue and we've continued our sponsorship this year."