Paralympian and GB Wheelchair Basketball player, Joe Bestwick, joins the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Joe has joined our BRIT Ambassador family. Joe represented Great Britain in Wheelchair Basketball between 2006 and 2018. He is a three time European U23 Championship medallist, three time European Championship medallist and Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games Bronze medallist. Joe currently plays for the Köln 99ers in the German Bundesliga 1 (RBBL).
“Having adapted to life with a disability, and as a former student, elite athlete and through my work mentoring young adults, I know that there has been a significant increase in the number of young adults and students who are facing mental health challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the existing mental health difficulties faced by many young adults and I am aware that one in four young people were unable to access the mental health support they needed during the 2020 lockdown. In order to avoid long-term effects on their mental health, there must be more collaboration between charities, support services and organisations who support young adults and students. The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) Vision is to support young adult and student mental health and their collaborative approach is clearly having a huge UK-wide impact; to ensure this continues, I hope every university, college and students’ union enters teams in the BRIT 2021 Challenge and promotes the opportunity for their students to take part. It is great to see that BRIT have partnered, or developed special relationships, with education and sport national governing bodies in order to engage every UK university and college to embrace their annual inclusive BRIT Challenge. Equality and inclusion in any activity is important and I applaud BRIT for designing the BRIT 2021 Challenge to enable students and young adults of all abilities to take part wherever they are (at home or on campus) and feel part of a team. I am delighted to be joining the BRIT Ambassador family to support and improve young adult mental health and will do all I can to encourage my fellow Olympians, Paralympians and elite athletes to join me as BRIT Ambassadors and champion the BRIT Challenge at universities and colleges of their choice. I would be thrilled to encourage students and staff at The Open University, should they enter teams in the BRIT 2021 Challenge.”
Joe was born with talipes equinovarus (a lower limb disability) affecting both his legs and feet, but despite this he developed a passion for sports of all kinds. As a child, Joe struggled to play team sports with other children and was frustrated at the competitive inequalities caused by disability. When he was 12 years old, Joe discovered wheelchair basketball and while he had a passion for the game, it soon became evident that he also had talent as well. Joe represented Great Britain at the European U23 Championships in 2002, where he won gold, then in 2004, where he won another gold, and then in 2006, where he won silver. Progressing to the Senior Men’s Great Britain team, Joe won silver at the 2007 European Championships and bronze at the 2009 European Championships. In 2008, Joe was part of the Great Britain team who won bronze at the Beijing Paralympic Games. Due to his talipes equinovarus, Joe had his lower right leg amputated in 2010. Between 2011 and 2014, Joe was a Consultant with the Youth Sport Trust where he shared his experiences, both in sport and life, with young people aged 11-18 on projects including the School Games (formally the UK School Games) and the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative. In 2013, Joe won gold at the European Championships. Joe played for Hannover United in the German Bundesliga 1 (RBBL) during the 2019/20 season and was the RBBL Top Scorer. In 2021/22, Joe will be playing for the Köln 99ers in the German Bundesliga 1 (RBBL). Sport has changed Joe’s life for the better and since 2011, he has wanted to give something back to sport and is actively involved in mentoring and motivating in the hope that he can inspire others. Joe has returned to higher education and hopes to complete a degree with the Open University next year. To hear and see Joe talk about his Wheelchair Basketball journey, please take a look at Joe’s interview with Martin Shenk in 2017;