Shotput legend Geoff Capes was in Derby on Friday (21 June) to launch his national charity for young people.
The-69-year-old Olympian and European and Commonwealth champion was at Derby Grammar School’s sports facility, Rykneld Sports Centre, to present a bespoke basketball wheelchair to Derby Wheelblazers rising star Joe Hinsley – who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus.
Geoff appeared 67 times for his country, making him Britain’s most capped athlete. He is also the former World’s Strongest Man and Highland Games champion. Now at 69-years-old he wants to make sure youngsters have the same opportunities he had when he was young.
The Geoff Capes Foundation is a national organisation which identifies young people with sporting potential who lack financial or other means to progress. It also provides a way for philanthropists and members of the public to help develop individuals and support community and leisure time activities.
Geoff Capes said: “I’m delighted to meet Joe and officially launch the charity by presenting this tailor-made basketball wheelchair to such a fine young sportsman.
“It’s well known that I came from a poor background. Money was so tight that I went to the All-England Schools Athletics Championships aged 14 with no plimsolls – and that was on concrete. I know that there are many young people, who like me as a youngster, have sporting potential but don’t have the means. Many sadly falter and never recover because the barriers are just too difficult to overcome without support. That’s something I want to change.”
The event took place to an audience of Derby Grammar School boys at the Rykneld Sports Centre, Mackworth. After the official presentation and speeches Joe’s five-a-side team, Derby WheelBlazers, who train at the centre, played a friendly game against The Geoff Capes Foundation.
18-year-old Joe Hinsley has an appetite for sport, is a keen West Bromwich Albion fan and is studying to be a sports coach at Portland College in Mansfield. He has never and will never walk but leads an action-packed life with wheelchair basketball as his passion. He has played every Sunday for three hours since he was six.
Joe said: “I’m really excited because I have always wanted a basketball wheelchair of my own. I’ve used one of the club’s until now which has been great but this one is made especially for my body; it feels a lot better, it’s lighter and allows me to travel faster.
“I love playing basketball, being part of a team is really important to me. I have made a lot of friends here, it’s very sociable.
“I’m really grateful that the charity has given me the chair and I’m delighted to meet the big man – he’s pretty famous so it’s quite cool.”
Derby Wheelblazers Captain and Joe’s Coach Martin Austin said: “To play at your best potential you have to have a chair that suits you and when the charity approached us we thought the timing was just right for Joe – he plays really well but we know he has more potential with his own chair.
“Wheelchair basketball is a tool for growth and boosts confidence. Joe is just turning into a young man and if he continues to excel at basketball on court then he will take that with him off court and carry that through to everyday life.”
Joe’s Mum Janet Hinsley was also there on the day. She said: “This will transform Joe’s game.
“He has just had a new day chair for his 18th birthday and it has already made such a difference – the bespoke chairs are more comfortable, lighter weight and I can’t tell you the benefits he will experience.
“All the youngsters who come here have such full lives – they go to work, have girlfriends, mortgages, friends and a social life. That’s so important for new members of the team when they see that and know that a full life is possible – whatever the disability.”
The team is looking for new players and will be holding open sessions throughout the summer for next season. Sessions take place at Rykneld Sports Centre, Mackworth.
Geoff Capes will be raising funds for the charity at The Quad, Derby on July 22. BBC Radio Derby’s’ Steve Jordan will be hosting an ‘Audience with Geoff Capes and Guests.’ Don’t miss out, tickets are just £10 to book visit: https://www.derbyquad.