Our Junior Wheelchair Rugby Program kicked off with two action packed come and try days as the perfect build up to our eight-week season.
Our Junior Wheelchair Rugby program began with the ambition of a young boy named Beau whose dream is to compete at the 2032 Brisbane Paralympics, participating in his beloved sport of Wheelchair Rugby.
Before the program, there was no opportunity for young players to participate in the sport of wheelchair rugby. After learning about Beau’s dream, we have established a pathway for juniors from Victoria to learn and develop their skills in Wheelchair Rugby. Our program provides an unprecedented opportunity for young players like Beau to progress to state, national, and even international levels. With the Junior Wheelchair Rugby Program, the first of its kind in Australia, Beau has a greater chance of achieving his dream.
To introduce more juniors to the sport, DSR organised the come-and-try events where participants could enjoy the excitement of wheelchair rugby in an inclusive environment. These events occurred on the 16th and 23rd of July at the main showcourt in Narrandjeri Stadium. It was an excellent opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of the sport!
Andrew Harrison, a two-time gold medallist Paralympic champion and Head Coach of the Victorian Protect Thunder Wheelchair Rugby team and Ben Owens, a senior player of the Unicorns Wheelchair Rugby team, helped run the events. The day included an introduction to the rules of wheelchair rugby, safe manoeuvring with wheelchairs and tips for ball handling, skills-based drills including passing between team-mates, relay races, and a rugby game at the end.
[Image ID: In Image 1 (Left) Andrew Harrison is leading a circle of children and adults facing each other. In Image 2 (Middle), A group of kids in wheelchairs, some wearing green bibs, are warming up to play and facing different directions. In Image 3 (Right), A participant in white is facing the camera and moving to the right of the image, while a man in grey faces away from the camera to the left.]
It was heart-warming to see a diverse group of parents/guardians, siblings, and representatives from our partner organisations participating in our event. The turnout was impressive, and everyone had a blast crashing into their loved ones!
Thanks to the success of our come and try events, we have launched an 8-week training program, which commenced on Wednesday, 2nd August, and will run each week at Royal Talbot until Wednesday, 20th September.
Leading the training program will once again be Paralympian Andrew Harrison, who brings a wealth of experience to train the junior champions. Following the 8-week program, participants will be divided into teams and compete in a showcase game prior to the Protect Victorian Senior Grand Final at the excellent facilities of Narrandjeri Stadium.
This program not only provides juniors a chance to participate in the sport, but also serves to regenerate the talent pathways for our Australian Steelers national team and continue the gold medal-winning legacy that has helped push Wheelchair Rugby throughout Australia. We are giving them the best possible chance of making it to the national team for the Paralympics, especially when they are competing on home soil in 2032.
We want to thank our fabulous supporters, Protect, Rugby Victoria, Paralympics Australia, Royal Talbot, Darebin Stadiums, and Rugby Club of Victoria, for allowing us the opportunity to kickstart this Junior Wheelchair Rugby Program.