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Bears Wheelchair Rugby sets city first

Bristol Bears Wheelchair Rugby, one of the Foundation’s longest running programmes, successfully delivered on its promise to bring competitive Wheelchair Rugby to the city, as the South West Development League came to Bristol.

With teams travelling from Bournemouth (Lions) Southampton (Solent Sharks) and Plymouth (South West Hawks), the home leg of the series brought round-robin action and knock-out finals to UWE Centre for Sport, with dozens of fans in attendance to enjoy.

The inclusive adults club, recently boosted by the support of the Ciao Foundation, has worked tirelessly for over four years to develop a provision that not only provides meaningful social sport for disabled and non-disabled people alike, but can also provide an accessible pathway to disability competition for classifiable players.

Gaining the support of community focussed Irwin Mitchell LLP, sponsorship by the law firm enabled the team to enter GBWR (Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby) recognised competition for the first time, but more than that was the final piece of the puzzle for providing the team identify that many of the players have sought.

Programme manager, Kris Tavender, said: “To stand back and see wheelchair rugby arrive in Bristol is such a special moment - and it would not have been possible without the sponsorship and support of both the Ciao Foundation for our club provision, nor without Irwin Mitchell, whose Bristol office have championed the creation of a competitive team since our first introductions.

“We really are indebted to all of our supporters, not just for their financial support, but for being there on the day and being such a big part of it. From cheering the team on to meeting and greeting players, our friends from Ciao have been such a big part of the day, and to see friends and guests from Irwin Mitchell not only clapping from the sidelines, but also jump into chairs for demonstration games alongside University of Bristol medical students and our own Bears wheelchair players was a sight to see!”

To find out more about weekly wheelchair rugby sessions, contact Head Coach Ian Blundell. 

Photos courtesy of Ian Rice Photography.