Sophie Denieffe’s story in wheelchair basketball is one of resilience, determination, and exceptional leadership. As the first female captain of her club, she has shattered stereotypes and proven her prowess on the court. Leading her team to victory in the Gerard Larkin Cup and being the sole female player in the National Cup Semi-final and Final this season, Sophie’s achievements speak volumes about her talent and dedication.

Beyond the club level, Sophie has made her mark on the international stage as a proud member of the Women’s National Team. Representing her country with distinction, she embodies the spirit of excellence and serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes everywhere.

Recently, Sophie has been part of a groundbreaking initiative—the formation of the Emerald Rollers, Ireland’s Women’s National Team in wheelchair basketball. Comprising players from different clubs across the country, this team represents a new era of inclusivity and opportunity in the sport. Their upcoming matches in Division 2 of the GB Woman’s League signify a significant step forward in their journey.

Can you highlight any female role models in your sport whose achievements have inspired you, and how have they influenced your own journey?

One Female Wheelchair Basketball player I really look up to is Great Britain player Laurie Williams. Laurie Williams is a 2.5 classified Wheelchair Basketball player and has represented Great Britain in the Paralympics a total of 3 times in 2012, 2016 and 2020 and at the European Championships 6 times in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2019 and 2021. Classification in Wheelchair Basketball is based on your level of disability. As Laurie has the same classification as me, 2.5, it’s great being able to watch her and take note of exactly what I should be doing on the court to help me improve as a player and help my teammates out as much as I can. As Laurie has been so successful in representing her country at such a high level, this is definitely something I strive to do in the future and will continue to work towards.


What’s the best piece of advice you have gotten in your career?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is to never doubt myself. One thing my coach Pat O’ Neill always says is that he won’t be mad if we take a shot and miss it but he will be mad if we are in a position to take a shot and we don’t do so. Missing shots and making mistakes is all part of learning and bettering yourself to become a better player in the future so doubting yourself will get you nowhere.


How can female athletes in sports play a key role in motivating and encouraging young girls to actively engage in sports?

I think female athletes in sports can play a huge role in motivating and encourage young girls to get involved in sports by promoting equality in sports and proving that woman’s sport is just as serious and competitive as men’s and trying their best to get other girls involved whenever they can. For me personally, I’m one of very few females involved in Wheelchair Basketball in Ireland and only 1 of 2 playing for my club South East Swifts. However, I would love for more girls to get involved as we have recently formed a Woman’s National team, The Emerald Rollers, and I would love to see it expand more. One thing I would say to any girls out there who are thinking of taking up a sport is to just go for it. There’s no harm in trying everything as you’re bound to find at least one sport you like.