European title would justify top funding for Sophie Carrigill and GB wheelchair basketball

Great Britain’s women’s wheelchair basketball squad ‘have a target on their back’ at next week’s European Championships in Rotterdam.

Aiming for glory: Sophie Carrigill.
Aiming for glory: Sophie Carrigill.

READ MORE - Big interview with Sophie Carrigill

The Sheffield-based national squad have never won a major title despite plenty of medal finishes, but because of their status as the best-funded programme, they are the team everyone wants to beat.

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For Wakefield-born Sophie Carrigill, that expecation is welcomed.

“We’re world silver medallists and the only team fully centralised and training full-time so we’ve definitely got a target on our backs,” said the 25-year-old who was part of the GB team that reached the world championship final in Hamburg last year.

“I thrive on that pressure. Our livelihoods are at stake. These next few days... it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

“The European zone is the toughest region with us, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, who are all doing great things.

“But having our own facility and being funded is a great advantage for us and one we have to own. We’re doing things other teams aren’t doing, so we need to prove it works.

“So you can’t take any game for granted. Every game will be tough so we can’t take any chances.”

Great Britain begin against France on Sunday and play five games in five days to determine the European champions.

“People want to beat us after what we managed last year, you have to flush and reset, we’re on to the next one now,” she added.

“For us it is a big confidence booster that we can get into those positions, we can win matches at the sharp end of these tournaments.

“All right we didn’t win but we’re putting ourselves in a position to achieve it.

“That’s just the standard for this team now - medals and success.

“It’s a completely different mindset that we’ve had from four or five years ago, that medals are now achievable.

“To win them now has become mandatory - our funding has been based on it, so we need to be securing these medals to still be here and represent our country.

“So the pressure’s on.”