By Abi Curran, Sportsbeat
Bolton wheelchair basketball talent Kayli English is targeting another huge season and hopes she can follow in the footsteps of Joy Haizelden by one day making it to a Paralympic Games.
The 22-year-old from Greater Manchester fell in love with the sport after first competing as a wheelchair racer.
The fast-paced aggressive nature of the team game got English hooked and has led to her joining Wheelchair Basketball Women's Premier League side Loughborough Lightning following a spell with Worcester Wolves.
She balances the league with her home club Manchester Revolution and celebrated enormous success this year when they won the Wheelchair Basketball Premier League play-off final against London Titans.
“It was the fact that it’s a team sport and it’s the aggression that you’re allowed to have on court,” said English, who has been selected to be part of Aldi’s Rising Stars programme, an initiative with SportsAid that provides talented young athletes with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities.
“The environment off court with everybody else that plays means you can have that aggression on court but the minute you’re off everybody is friends.
“I would love to play for GB and play in the Paralympics, I would also like to play for an international league team in Spain.
“I’ll definitely be tuning in to Paris 2024, Joy Haizelden is my idol, she’s an insane player and amazing to watch.
“Interaction with the sport needs to be as easy as possible and the closer that is to home for us the better, for everybody it’s important that it can be seen.”
The UK’s fourth-largest supermarket, Aldi, has entered into the second year of its Rising Stars programme with SportsAid by announcing the 18 talented young athletes receiving support in 2023.
Each athlete on the programme is provided with funding to help towards costs such as… pic.twitter.com/jiSUXpVK3w
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) July 27, 2023
Each athlete on the Rising Stars programme, which was launched with SportsAid last year, receives funding to help towards costs such as travel, accommodation, equipment and nutrition, with Aldi also delivering workshop sessions on a range of topics to help nurture athletes for their sporting endeavours and beyond.
English travelled with Manchester Revolution to play at the Champions Cup in Spain, which ignited her ambitions to play abroad.
The huge growth of wheelchair basketball within the UK has also inspired the Salford University graduate to represent her country and, with one year to go until Paris 2024 and LA 2028 in her sights, the sky is the limit for English.
She added: "It’s great to have support and the sport is a massive financial undertaking.
“Just travelling from training alone without thinking about equipment costs is so much.
“To have the help from SportsAid and Aldi makes you feel seen. It makes you feel that the effort you’re putting in means something.”
Aldi is the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB and have partnered with Team GB since 2015, ParalympicsGB since 2022 and will be supporting them through to Paris 2024.