Support for Bill?s wheelie busy schedule
By GREG WHITE
HE'S only 16 but Coffs Harbour wheelchair basketball star Bill Latham is already a seasoned world traveller.
Training, national competition and attending world events leaves little spare time for an after school job for this John Paul College Year 11 student.
It's incredible how he fits everything together but it does happen with a little help.
While coaching youngsters the principles of 'wheelies' at SportzCentral this week, Bill received a financial lift from two community benefactors, MBT Lawyers and Coffs Harbour Catholic Club.
"Brett Long organised a business house bowls day at the club and our company won a cash prize," MBT spokesperson Bruce Worboys said.
"The suggestion was made we offer the money to Bill so the club joined in and we built a scholarship for him."
Latham will use the money for equipment and travel expenses which are, to be blunt - horrendous.
"Mum and dad have borne most of the costs till now," Latham explained.
"A wheelchair costs anything up to $7000 and even the spokes which constantly need replacing are $15 each.
"Then, there are the travel costs."
In the last six months, Latham has participated in the Sydney area competition, regularly commuting from Coffs to take part.
There was the trip to Japan to represent Australia in the Osaka Cup and a Brisbane visit for the Junior Nationals as part of the New South Wales under-20's where he won 'most valuable player' in the final and finished highest pointscorer.
Selection in the All Star Team followed, with Latham a key member of the squad that went down to the USA by eight points.
"The next six months are going to be even tighter," he said.
"The National League is about to begin which means three months competing in the eastern state capitals and across to Perth."
If that's not enough for most 16- year-olds, Latham jets out during July to Illinois USA for a five day training camp with the New South Institute of Sport.
"Fairly busy life, don't you think?" Latham grins.
"I'm grateful I've got people who support me."