Two budding wheelchair basketball players have been backed by one of north’s largest commercial property investors.
UK Land Estates is sponsoring the development of talents of Mohawks Wheelchair Basketball Club stars, Ollie Porter, 15, and George Hazard, 15.
The players, who have already broken into the national team, are best friends and have developed together playing for the renown Middlesbrough Mohawks since they were both just seven.
UK Land Estates MD, Keith Taylor, said: “The progress made by these two fantastic players since they first picked up a basketball is incredible and we feel genuinely honoured to be able to play a small part in their continued development as they push on to achieve their Paralympic dream.
“UK Land Estates strives to be a good neighbour and doing our bit to support the communities around our sites is something we’re passionate about. Once we heard Ollie and George’s stories and their commitment to becoming the best players they can be, we were sold on the sponsorship and proud to provide it.”
Ollie, from Hurworth, was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. An active sportsman, he joined the Mohawks aged just five, inspired by the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Year 11 student Ollie said: “I wanted to become a Paralympian and loved basketball, the club was fantastic and competing in games really helped me develop quickly.
“This support is fantastic and will help both George and I continue to develop, progress and fight for our dream of representing Team GB at the Paralympics.”
Ollie’s friend George Hazard is also on an upward trajectory. Training together for seven years, they represented England North U18 team at a national tournament this summer, winning silver medals and invitation to a GB men’s ‘A’ team training session.
George, from Middlesbrough, was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency and had multiple surgeries on his hips. Inspired by wheelchair basketball sessions at primary school, he joined the team at seven.
“I love basketball, and like Ollie my focus is competing at the highest possible level,” said the Nunthorpe Academy student. “The Mohawks is a fantastic club that offers top class coaching and instil a great deal of drive and self-belief.
“Wheelchair basketball can be expensive and securing sponsorship like this is vital to keep progressing and improving, so I can’t thank UK Land Estates enough for this support.”
Both teenagers played in the Junior League team and in the British Wheelchair Basketball National League as soon as they turned 14, the youngest eligible age. They have represented the club at the National Finals for the past two years, and last season were part of the unbeaten Division 1 team. They have been selected to represent the North at the National Junior Championships and for the last two School Games at Loughborough University, winning silver medals in 2021 and 2022.