27 January 2022

East London Phoenix, the wheelchair basketball franchise owned by the University of East London (UEL), has announced that Alice McHaffie has joined the team ahead of their opener against Cardiff Met Archers on Friday 28 January.

The 17-year-old won a bronze medal on her regional debut playing for Yorkshire Under 15s and has recently won gold with England North at the 2021 school games.

Alice will mark the second teenager to join the Phoenix franchise after Emily Branthwaite.

Coach Michael Hanson-Morris said, "I am happy that Alice has taken on the challenge of combining her studies and playing in the Women’s Premier League. Adding some depth to our front court has been something we've been trying to achieve for a couple of months. We'd like to provide more opportunities for young players like Alice to play and make an impact at this level."

A Great Boost For the Area

It is hoped that the Phoenix's presence in East London and the Women's Premier League as a whole will help raise the profile of wheelchair basketball in the area.

Phoenix operations assistant Cameron Reardon said, "It is going to really put the sport on the map in East London and raise awareness from both the professional ranks all the way down to grassroots clubs, teams and initiatives."

In the build-up to the debut season Phoenix staff have already started community outreach. Michael, Cameron and player Freya Levy visited Sir John Heron Primary School among others in the Newham area to provide an introduction to wheelchair basketball.

High performance manager Will Ashby added, "It's going to be able to bring in local communities and schools, with both junior and senior schools coming in and experiencing the sport for the first time."

The first match of the season will also mark the start of a partnership with Athlete Origin, whose founding mission aims to 'empower athletes to live successful and fulfilling lives beyond sport'.

Athlete Origins will help provide career services and support to the Phoenix players. Founder of Athlete Origin, Angus Gilmour said, "We're delighted to be the official career consultation provider for East London Phoenix. This partnership very much aligns with Athlete Origin's founding mission, so the opportunity to be involved with the UK's first ever professional para sport league is something we couldn't pass up.

"We're excited about this partnership and look forward to providing our career services and support to the elite athletes involved."

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