Meet Great Britain’s wheelchair basketball Performance Director, Jayne Ellis. Jayne joined wheelchair basketball in November 2018 after working with both the British Cycling and GB Taekwondo teams, and previously leading the delivery of the EIS Paralympic Talent Strategy.
“My role is to help get this amazing team into the right mindset for what’s about to come. The focus has been on what their needs are and we’re set up as a team around their needs at this time.”
Great Britain’s women’s team have a fierce rivalry with the Netherlands and ahead of the Europeans last year, Jayne and her team wanted to ensure the GB side were as prepared as possible before the tournament.
“Going into the Europeans, we knew we had to face the Dutch who are a great nation. We got thinking, who can we bring in to help us with this specific need?
“Kindly, the captain of the women’s Great Britain hockey gold medal winning team from the Rio Olympic Games, Kate Richardson-Walsh, came in to help us. She was just awesome.
“What she brought was an insight and context around performance that we don’t have and don’t see. That addition into our team, into what we are trying to achieve and learning from their experience and bringing that through, money can’t buy that type of connection.
“She really helped us learn about ourselves, about the team and about how we approach that competition. That is just one of the innovative things we’ve put in place to really understand the needs of the team and set ourselves up.”
For those who remember that August evening when the hockey women won gold, the crowd was a sea of Dutch orange, who were favourites to take home the medal. However, the GB women had worked hard for years to create their team, to ensure they played their final knowing that many of them had beaten this Dutch side a year earlier in the final at the Europeans as England.
“Kate helped us explore the language we use around the narrative we tell ourselves and the story about the competition, how important that language is to the team. She really did bring something extra to the table.”
Athlete Kayla Bell found it refreshing hearing from Kate and about her team’s experiences in Rio. “It was nice to hear from a team sport perspective. When you deal with twelve people, it can be challenging to make sure everyone is happy and working together. So coming from someone in a team sport, it really helped us know how to create a one-team environment.”
Jayne beams with pride as she speaks passionately about how her GB wheelchair basketball athletes continue to inspire each other and the public.
“Every day I come into work, these lot inspire me; I work for them. They are exceptional. They play themselves down, but all our athletes do. The more people see them, the more they can inspire that little girl at home who is having a challenging time, but then she sees these ladies and says: ‘I can do that.’ That’s what it’s all about.”
The Great Britain team have recently come back from Tokyo where they placed second in the Osaka Cup, bowing down to Canada in the final. The team have qualified a spot at the Tokyo Paralympics and are training hard over the next few months to ensure they are on the podium this summer. Follow their journey to Tokyo here.