Bradford Bulls Wheelchair Tag Rugby League Club
The BBWTRLC provide wheelchair sporting activities for disabled and non-disabled members of the community, in Bradford. Gender, age and disability are no barriers and even non-disabled people can take part.
The BBWTRL club allows disabled and non-disabled members of the public to take part in team sports, and develop socially while improving health, wellbeing and self-esteem. The club allows disabled people to take part and play rugby with non-disabled people. This creates genuine equality. The club currently compete in the national league yet receive no funding or financial support. This puts a toll on the volunteers and currently the club runs on in-kind support that is gratefully received.
The club is run by its members. Recently, a new committee was formed where each player took on a role, and influences how the club is run. I was appointed the vice chair and fundraiser. There is a qualified wheelchair rugby league coach, who leads on club development and historically, all responsibilities have fallen to him. However, workload of running the club voluntarily has taken its toll and the committee was established to develop the club and help it move forwards. I have personally been active in the club since 2013, where the club permitted me to use their wheelchairs to run wheelchair rugby league sessions, for disabled students at the University of Bradford.
I run a project called Cycling 4 All that allows disabled students to take part in activities and sports, with their non-disabled peers. This project has been successful in changing disability provision in Higher Education in the UK, indeed I was kindly given an MBE in the Queens’ Birthday Honours List. This would not have been possible without the support of the BBWTRL club, as running regular wheelchair rugby sessions allowed students across the University to understand the needs of disabled people a little better. Currently, members of the BBWTRL club coach disabled students and through this, everyone benefits at relatively little cost.
Members of the club are primarily from socially deprived backgrounds, and are at risk of social isolation. The club allows them a physical outlet and instils discipline, self-respect and respect for others. If you are a wheelchair user in Bradford, the closest place to play team sports is Keighley, 10 miles away. This is the only outlet for Bradford, who has one of the lowest health outcomes in the UK and one of the highest rates of disability. We currently have 5 wheelchair users and several members have mental health issues, all of whom report improvements in social mobility and self-esteem.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
This funding would allow the club to continue to develop outreach activities, which have been put on hold this year. Further it would help to develop the professional and interpersonal skills of our members. We would train, in house, several of our young members to be coaches. The young people will then be able to deliver outreach projects to schools, and special schools in the region. This is a new initiative to skill up a generation of young people with disabilities in Bradford.
There is a cost for this relating to, promotion, marketing and delivery. This fund would be put towards these costs. The money will also be used for van hire to allow the members to take the wheelchairs to community events and deliver sessions. So far we have delivered events to the National Scout Jamboree, the Mixed Ability Rugby World Cup Tournament. We have been unable to do this, this year due to financial restraints but this money would allow us to expand our outreach provision.
By taking this approach, we would introduce disabled people to the sport of wheelchair rugby league at an age when they are likely to adopt this activity as a viable way of staying fit and while increasing social mobility. Last year the club had 20 regular members, and had an outreach of over 2,000 individuals. We are looking to expand this provision to reach over 5,000 individuals over the next year and to increase our core membership to 40 by starting a development team, that would run in addition to the first team.
"The Bradford Bulls Wheelchair Rugby League Club provide the only regular wheelchair sport in the centre of Bradford. This is a fantastic asset and something that should be applauded."
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