James Thomas, Head of Operations at Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, give us the lowdown on the no-holds-barred world of wheelchair rugby, its charity projects and the tournaments helping British players get in shape for the Paralympic Games.
For those of you who didn’t catch the recent Freaks of Nature on Channel 4, wheelchair rugby is one of the fastest-growing wheelchair sports on the planet. Originally called “murderball” it’s a fast-paced, full contact, no-holds-barred sport that has taken the world by storm.
Here at Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR), we are hard at work to ensure that the grass roots of the sport grow and develop, while giving our most talented players the best opportunities to succeed on the world stage and bring home a medal from the 2012 Games.
GBWR has recently teamed up with the charity Get Kids Going to send five of our 2012 hopefuls out to Florida to take part in an international training camp. On home soil, the Coloplast Super Series kicked off on March 19th with eight teams fighting it out to be No.1.
With significant investment from UK Sport and Sport England, GBWR is now in a position to really strengthen its infrastructure, support our army of volunteers and deliver some fantastic opportunities. My role as Head of Operations is to deliver enjoyable opportunities for current players, increase awareness so the sport thrives for years to come and ensure we are the best-prepared team at the 2012 Games. It’s a fantastic job and I love the challenge of helping to develop this fantastic sport.
With the Coloplast Super Series, National Championships and Regional Development Days it really is a year of action. But that’s not all we’re doing. GBWR is rolling out an Ambassador Recruitment Programme supported by the charity BOOST to increase its player base and also a schools project in partnership with the rugby charity, the Wooden Spoon. On the international side of things, 2011 is the year of the European Championships. October will be crunch time in Switzerland and it’s shaping up for a showdown between Great Britain and Sweden, who are currently ranked fourth in the world.
We will prepare for this battle with the GB Cup in September, a four-team tournament held on home soil, in Cardiff. GBWR has received great support for the event from Sport Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and Disability Sport Wales, so we know it’s going to be a great event. Great Britain will face Australia, Sweden and Japan over a grueling three-day competition. Keep your eyes peeled for Channel 4 stars Mandip Sehmi and Steve Brown, not to mention our bright young stars Dave Anthony, Myles Pearson and Aaron Phipps to name but a few.
It really is a busy time for GBWR, but what a fantastic opportunity the London 2012 Paralympics will provide to showcase our sport. You really don’t know what you’re missing.
Find out more about wheelchair rugby on the GBWR website and the English Federation of Disability Sport website.
Photo courtesy GBWR. ©GBWR