Wheel Blacks coach teaches kids

TACKLE: Ten-year-old Ilam School boys Michael Fowler, left, tries to keep the ball from Damian Davis while playing wheelchair rugby.

Ilam School pupils have used their school holidays to learn about lesser known sports and take up wheelchair rugby.

Thirty four pupils, aged from five to 11, were introduced to the sport by Wheel Blacks coach Andy Chittock, who visited the school on Wednesday.

Mr Chittock said the children adapted well to their new challenge.

“They watched a small film and worked out the rules and were pretty good. Most picked up how to push a wheelchair pretty quick.”

The wheelchairs are different from conventional ones, with six wheels instead of four.

Mr Chittock wanted to show the children what opportunities are out there for disabled people.

“If you do have an accident or a disability, it’s not the end of the world,” he said.

“Wheelchair rugby is not only a sport, it’s showing that someone with a disability can interact with sport and the community.”

He was particularly impressed by some of the questions the pupils asked.

“They were very good as far as understanding what having a disability is all about. They weren’t all about the sport, it was also about having a disability,” Mr Chittock said.

The event was organised by the school’s holiday programme, Ilam OSCAR.

Supervisor Jo Le Gros said she wanted to teach sports that children were not used to seeing.

“I believe that each sport is unique and it’s good to expose different sports to the children. We can show that if you’re disabled, you can still play a sport.”

After an hour of trying out the wheelchairs, there were a few sore arms, Miss Le Gros said.

Although all the pupils that took part were able-bodied, some wanted to take up the sport, she said.