Wheelie big year for Bill

IT HAS been a year to remember for rising Coffs Harbour wheelchair basketball star Bill Latham as he continues to shine on the national and international scene.

In October Bill travelled to New Zealand as a member of the Australian under-20 team.

Australia competed in the New Zealand National Wheelchair Basketballcompetition against five teams from the host country.

The Australian team of 10 comprised players from across the country including four from NSW as well as a 21 year oldParalympian, Tristan Knowles who filled in for a South Australian boy who was a late withdrawal.

Bill, along with John Mcphail from Sydney were the two youngest players at just 14 years old.

The Australians lost their first game by a narrow margin but then went on to win all remaining games.

They played Waikato in the Grand finals winning by aconvincing 20 points.

At the end of the games Bill was named, along with Tristan Knowles, as one of only seven players in the team of the tournament.

Recently Bill played in the last round of the Sydney Summer League.

After losing to the eventualtournament winners in the semi-finals (Illawarra) his Sydney Wheelkings team played off for third andfourth place against the other half of their national team, Wheelkings 2.

Although the game ended in a draw, Bill put in a brilliant performance top scoring for his team in both games.

As reported by NSW Wheelchair Sports Ass TristanKnowles (Illawarra) led all scorers on the weekend with 82 points, ahead of rising star in 14 year old Bill Latham (Wheelkings) with 56 points.

Bill and his family travelled to Sydney on 27 weekends this year and they are now breathing a sigh of relief to have a short respite before it all starts again in January.

This hectic schedule is expected to increase with Bill's selection in the under-23 Australian squad as well as an invitation to attend training camps with the Australian men's senior squad.

Most of Bill's expenses are incurred in travelling and accomodation costs which totalled nearly $10,000 this year.

He has now reached a standard with his basketball that makes it important to have his own wheelchair built specifically to his requirements.

To date Bill has battled along using secondhand chairs built for someone else.

A new wheelchair costs aproximately $5000 and he is currently seeking sponsors to assist him with these expenses.

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