Coffs Harbour?s Bill Latham guards an opposition player during the wheelchair basketball match played at Sportz Central on Sund
Coffs Harbour?s Bill Latham guards an opposition player during the wheelchair basketball match played at Sportz Central on Sund

Bill wheelie good basketballer

By PAUL CHAMBERS

THE Coffs Harbour Suns are a great basketball team containing some star players who have achieved a lot in the game, but they don't provide the town's most successful and promising men's basketball player.

The Coffs Harbour Wheelies can lay claim to that honour.

For those of you who are unaware of just who the Wheelies are let me enlighten you.

They are the local team made up of wheelchair players, and one of these players has just been selected to play for Australia U23 in the up coming U23 World Games.

To make this feat even more remarkable the player concerned is just 15.

Bill Latham is a JPC college student who has already established himself among the country's elite players with some outstanding performances for the Australian U20's team.

In fact it was the ability and talent he displayed while playing for the U20's team in a recent game against the very strong American team where he scored 25 points, that earned him selection in a squad of 16 for the U23's in their preparations for the World Games.

These games take place in Birmingham, England from August 3-15 and involves all the best teams in the world in a 12 team competition, including the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Germany.

Playing against these teams is a dream come true for Latham.

"It is by far the best thing I have achieved so far in my career," he said.

"Playing against the Americans at the end of the Junior Nationals in April was great, but this tournament will be even bigger and even better so I can't wait.".

Being so young does not seem to faze Latham, in fact far from it.

Age is no barrier to the young man in his overall quest to play in the next Paralympics, in Beijing 2008, and this is highlighted by his recent inclusion in the full men's training squad.

The Australian men's team, better known as the 'Rollers', are very strong contenders for a medal at the next Olympics so to be part of the build up to that at such an early stage is a testament to the potential the selectors and coaches already see in Latham.

"It is my biggest ambition to play at the Paralympics so to be already involved in the Men's team now is great for my chances of playing in them," Latham said.

Latham has been in a wheelchair for almost 10 years after a farm accident and has been playing basketball for the relatively short time of six years.

He attributes his success to a couple of major things.

"Mum and Dad are fantastic helping me get to all the games and things and the cost side of it all," he said.

"I am also a NSW Institute of Sport Scholarship holder which allows me access to the best coaches and facilities in Sydney and they also provide me with a bus here in Coffs to help me out."



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