Wheelchair sports open day proves to be a hit

Basingstoke Gazette: Wheelchair basketball, picture by Rebecca McKevitt Wheelchair basketball, picture by Rebecca McKevitt

WHEELCHAIR sports were played by disabled and able-bodied people at an open-day event inspired by the Paralympic Games.

Dozens of people visited Everest Community Academy, in Oxford Way, Popley, Basingstoke, to try out wheelchair sports including laser tag, rugby, basketball and new age kurling.

Organised by John Perrin, community manager at the school, the event was aimed at showcasing Everest’s facilities, which are accessible to wheelchair users. Mr Perrin said he also wanted to find out the demand for a regular wheelchair sports club.

He explained: “Being a new building, we are fully accessible with ramps and lifts and parking bays, and we have a gym with equipment which is accessible to wheelchair users.

“There’s a mixture of disabled and able-bodied people here today, and if there’s enough interest in running a wheelchair sports club for disabled and able-bodied people then we will look into setting that up.”

Wheelchair sports coaches showed participants how to play the various games in their chairs, some of which were provided for able-bodied people or those without specialist sports chairs.

Ross Morrison, a Paralympic wheelchair rugby player, who competed in the 2012 Games, was there to help promote the event.

The 33-year-old, from Farnbor-ough, who broke his neck in 1996 while playing rugby, said: “It’s all about the Paralympic legacy and keeping the momentum going. There’s the potential for a disability sports club here, which would be great for the area.

“It was difficult for me to find clubs close by. To see more and more local clubs is fantastic. Sport can be a vital part of your life.”

Daniel Olayiwola is a pupil at Everest and has relied on a wheelchair since he was 10. The now 15-year-old, from Winklebury, Basing-stoke, who has muscular dystrophy, said: “There’s not really enough outlet for disabled people or wheelchair users. It’s quite nice to do something like this. I hope it will carry on.”

Susan Popple, from Chineham, relies on a wheelchair because of an acquired disability. The 49-year-old recently took up wheelchair basketball, but has been travelling to Aldershot to train.

She said: “I’m excited about this. I wanted to do something active but it’s really hard to find disabled sports venues.”

Sharon Cowdrey, 45, from Rooksdown, Basingstoke, attended with her 19-year-old son Ben. The mother-of-two uses a wheelchair because of root nerve damage.

She said: “My husband heard about this event on the radio. I’m glad I came.

“I didn’t know what you can do in the chair and I didn’t realise how much you can move around.”

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