Spe­cial Olympic joy for Ash­ley

Bas­ket­ball star is called up for ma­jor tour­na­ment

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Mur­ray Spooner

A tal­ented Ruther­glen bas­ket­ball player has spo­ken of her joy at be­ing se­lected to rep­re­sent the West of Scot­land at this year’s Spe­cial Olympics.

Ash­ley McCloy will join her Glas­gow Ea­gles team­mates at the Games in Sh­effield in Au­gust af­ter her im­pres­sive per­for­mances for her club team.

The 24-year-old, who has spe­cial needs, will com­pete against ath­letes who ex­pe­ri­ence sim­i­lar dif­fi­cul­ties at the largest sports event in Bri­tain for peo­ple with an in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

Ash­ley has been play­ing the sport since 2005 and told the Re­former of her ex­cite­ment af­ter her team com­peted in suc­cess­ful trial games.

“I started play­ing bas­ket­ball at school and got into the Glas­gow Ea­gles af­ter that,” she said.

“We did well at the try­outs in the three-on-three matches so I’m feel­ing ex­cited about it all. I re­ally en­joy play­ing.”

Ash­ley at­tended a spe­cial needs school in Blan­tyre which sup­ported her par­tic­u­lar ed­u­ca­tional re­quire­ments re­sult­ing from her learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.

But since leav­ing school, the Mill Court res­i­dent has kept up her pas­sion for bas­ket­ball which she says is a way of meet­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with new peo­ple.

Ash­ley’s other in­ter­ests in­clude art and drama, which she prac­tices at Fern­hill Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

And with an­tic­i­pa­tion build­ing ahead of the Games, head coach of the Glas­gow Ea­gles Ad­di­tional Needs teams, Barry McFar­lane, said the sport has been ben­e­fi­cial for Ash­ley and her team­mates.

He said: “Ash­ley is great. She re­ally puts the work in. She is de­ter­mined and al­ways gives 110 per cent.

“We are still try­ing to work out a po­si­tion for her but she will def­i­nitely start the games.”

He added: “We’ve been train­ing for over a year now at the Don­ald De­war Cen­tre in Drum­chapel and we’ve al­ways had a close af­fil­i­a­tion with the Spe­cial Olympics at the Glas­gow Ea­gles.

“I do think bas­ket­ball does help with com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I think they re­ally get the ben­e­fits from it.”

The Games are a chance to give ath­letes with an in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity the op­por­tu­nity to achieve and to demon­strate their abil­i­ties to the com­mu­nity.

It is pre­dicted that more than 2,600 ath­letes from across Eng­land, Scot­land and Wales will at­tend to com­pete in a va­ri­ety of sports.

Ash­ley’s proud mum Michelle said her daugh­ter’s call-up was very well de­served.

She said: “She re­ceived the let­ter say­ing she was go­ing last week so she’s re­ally ex­cited.

“She en­joys bas­ket­ball and we’re all pleased for her.”

Up for the chal­lenge Ash­ley McCloy

Spe­cial Olympic dream Ash­ley McCloy of the Glas­gow Ea­gles

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