Funding provided to a regional Victorian association through Paralympics Australia’s Para-sport Equipment Fund is giving local people with an impairment the opportunity to discover their sporting talents and increase their connectedness within the community.

Christian Brackley, of the Murray River Razorbacks Wheelchair Rugby Association, said the Razorbacks had gone from “struggling to comfortable” since receiving the grant in late 2019 to buy five specialised rugby chairs used in the popular Para-sport.

Shortly after receiving the grant, Brackley successfully requested renovations to the stadium at Echuca include laying down court markings for wheelchair rugby.

With numbers up, a good venue and the right equipment, Brackley now has his sights on drawing prospective players from across the country to participate in a regular competition.

RELATED: Round 7 of the Para-sport Equipment Fund is closing soon. Submit your application by 11 June 2021.

“The stadium here at Echuca is really great now and they’ve put down the markings for wheelchair rugby on the three courts. We’re aiming to hold a big competition up here once a year. We’re going to invite people from across Australia,” Brackley said.

“At the moment we just have a local competition. We do training and play games every month. We go hard at it for a couple of hours straight, so it’s a really good workout. A couple of days later you really feel it, you get quite sore. It’s a tough sport!”

The funding given to the Razorbacks is part of a program by Paralympics Australia to help successful individual and group applicants meet the costs of purchasing equipment to play Para-sports. The five chairs cost $26,241 out of a total of $763,940 that has been spent by Paralympics Australia on the Para-sport Equipment Fund so far.

“We’ve got people with various disabilities participating – people with quadriplegia, paraplegia, amputees, people with cerebral palsy, a couple with intellectual disabilities – everyone’s welcome,” Brackley said.

“They’re finding their own sporting capabilities and excelling. They’re getting out on the court and can’t believe how easy it is to push these new chairs compared to the old ones.

“The old chariots we’ve got here that we were using, they’re really heavy and broken. These new ones have helped a lot of our players excel just in the space of a few months.”

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Brackley said the chairs could be used also for tennis, basketball, badminton and table tennis.

“That’s what I’m putting out there for everyone, to look at using them if they want to maybe have a go with the wheelchair basketball team at Shepparton, for instance,” he said.

“Paralympics Australia can be very pleased that these five chairs are being used to encourage people to play a range of sports.”

For wheelchair rugby, Brackley said the new chairs were being used by players with more restricted movement, while the older chairs were used by those with more movement.

“Being able to use the new chairs allows the players to extend their stamina and play for longer, which is great,” he said.

“They’re getting a good workout and enjoying themselves, which is what it’s all about. It’s good for the body and the mind.

“One example, I had a bloke come along two months ago. It was his first go and he loved it. He’s a C5 quadriplegic, like myself, and he sent me a message a few days afterwards saying he felt like he’d been hit by a truck because he was feeling so sore.

“He loved it and he applied through the NDIS to get himself a rugby chair. He wants to look into playing in a competition down in Melbourne as well. These are the kinds of opportunities it’s opened up.”

Paralympics Australia is working to address the high costs facing participants and their families looking to get involved in Para-sports. We’re now asking for your support. We are accepting new financial contributions to our Para-sport Equipment Fund. You can help change lives through Para-sport. For more information, please contact us today.

By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 9 June 2021