A wheelchair basketball team in the north-east is helping people with disabilities stay fit, take part in competitive sport and make friends.
Following a four-week taster session in 2012, the Grampian Flyers Basketball Club, in partnership with Sport Aberdeen and Grampian Disability Sport, established the new wheelchair group.
Grant Wilson, the organisation’s development director, said: “In Glasgow and Edinburgh, and even Dundee, there are opportunities for wheelchair users but, up in Aberdeen, there wasn’t anything.”
However, during the last four years, the team has grown in size from six to 24 wheelchair basketball players, including people living with spinal cord injury and degenerative diseases.
Mr Wilson added: “It is an opportunity for them to stay fit, stay active, but also build a social group that understands some of the issues they are dealing with.”
Sarah Hawken, 33, one of the team members, was left permanently paralysed after a sudden illness. She said: “After a couple of years of coming to terms with my new wheelchair-using self, I realised I needed to keep myself fit and active.
“Disabilities disappear on the court and we become regular people participating in a fun sport.”
The team is also open to non-disabled players. As Mr Wilson explained: “They can come along, we put them in a wheelchair, and they are on the same level, playing with their friends, siblings or children.”
The 32-year-old said his biggest achievement as a coach was seeing his junior players going to trials to join the Scotland Development League, as well as winning the Celtic Cup earlier this year.
Taking place every Monday and Wednesday, the senior sessions are available to everyone aged over 14.
A training session for younger people also takes place on Monday, running side by side with a session for non-disabled players.
Mr Wilson has encouraged everyone in Aberdeen to get involved, arguing the experience has also challenged his own perceptions of disability.
He said: “I went in and I was very tenderfooted about what to say, and how to speak to disabled people, but what I learned was to treat these guys the same way you would treat any other player.”
The team hopes to play in a tournament in Europe next summer.