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While the Roller Hawks boast plenty of experience, one person eagerly awaiting his first taste of NWBL action is Tim Rushby-Smith.



This year Rushby-Smith has taken the step up from the club’s development team to the top league and after not travelling with the team to Brisbane in Round 1, he will suit up against the Blue Hornets this weekend.


“I’m expecting to be ready if I’m needed. I don’t know how much court time I’m going to get.”


“It’s my rookie season and I really just want to be part of the machine itself and be part of the squad but if the coach needs me and wants me to get some minutes on court for whatever reason whether it’s just for the experience or because it’s tactical, I want to be ready to go.”


“I’m just looking forward to the experience of being part of the team in action, rather than just at training.”


After suffering a spinal cord injury in 2005, Rushby-Smith first encountered the sport of wheelchair basketball in 2010 but it wasn’t until he moved to Australia from his native England in 2013 that he started playing regularly.


“I was really looking for the team element, that’s always been the excitement of sport when you come together with other players and together you can do something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”


“Sport was a very big part the rehabilitation process and at the time my wife was pregnant with our first child so I had that as a focus to get me through my rehab and I got through my rehab quite quickly but I think sport was another element of that.”


“Basketball, being the most established wheelchair sport and certainly the one in terms of the physical contact side was something that appealed. There’s a high level of skill but there’s also a physical element to it.”


There aren’t many sports that boast 50 year old rookies, but that’s exactly the position Rushby-Smith finds himself in. He attributes his rise to the help provided by the senior players involved with the club’s development side, the Illawarra Eagles.


“Playing competitively for them at state level through Wheelchair Sports NSW, I felt like my game was improving and I’ve been really encouraged by members of the development team, they then encouraged me to come along to Roller Hawks training and the more I came along the more I felt that I could be useful.”


“I think wheelchair sport in particular has this wonderful opportunity to provide for people who don’t necessarily get access to sport just to be able to participate and have social engagement as well as the personal self-esteem and fitness.”


“Within that, the more experienced players are always looking for people who they think have an interest or the potential to move up a level and I think in the Illawarra in particular there’s a really good mechanism thanks largely to some tireless work by a number of individuals within the club itself.”


The Wollongong Roller Hawks and Illawarra Wheelchair Basketball provides opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Those interested in having a go can contact the club via Facebook and can come to a development training session to try it out. Sports chairs and court access are provided.  Whether you aspire to play at the top level or just want to have some fun, message us via Facebook  or check the new Facebook page dedicated soley to the Development Team to find out more on playing wheelchair basketball.


“It’s really good fun. You leave the court feeling happy, it’s good exercise as well but it’s a really good way of meeting people as well.” says Rusby-Smith.


Support Tim and the rest of the team this weekend when we take on the Sydney Metro Blue Hornets.



Friday May 31: ROLLER HAWKS vs SYDNEY - 6pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium

Saturday June 1: ROLLER HAWKS vs Sydney - 10am @ Snakepit, Beaton Park

Sunday June 2: SYDNEY vs ROLLER HAWKS - 9:30am @ Hills Basketball Stadium, Castle Hill