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Bristol's Wheelchair Rugby Youngsters Star On National Stage

Bristol Wheelchair Rugby Youth team took to the court at competitive level once again, this time in the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby (GBWR) National Youth Tournament.

The team travelled to Stoke Mandeville-the home of GB Paralympics-to compete against teams from Exeter, Leicester, Ospreys, Northampton, Southampton and national champions Saracens.

Made up of 11-16 years olds from across Bristol, all participants are part of the Community Foundation’s Spectrum Project and the blossoming wheelchair rugby development programme run in partnership with GBWR.

Spectrum Project programme manager Kris Tavender said: “It is so great to see the team performing so well with such huge smiles on their faces.”

Losing closely to Ospreys, Northampton and Saracens in the group stage, Bristol made a brave stand in the Plate semi-final before going down to a strong Leicester Tigers team.

“To think that less than a year ago we began a conversation with GBWR to bring wheelchair rugby to Bristol, and we are now competing at a national level with young people from our effective schools programmes is incredible,” said Tavender.

“With our first four chairs arriving early in 2017, the future is very bright indeed.

“Whilst Spectrum has been able to secure funding for four wheelchairs, at £2,600 a chair, there is still a lot of work to do to bring a further six chairs in to make the team and indeed the club truly sustainable, and are looking to develop further sponsorship and charitable partnerships to assist in this.”

With weekly sessions for adults and youth on the horizon, youth coach and committed volunteer Ben Pickett says the impact on its participants is immeasurable.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for young people who would never usually get the opportunity to experience competition in a fun and safe environment, and to feel a sense of achievement and pride,” he said.

“Also, children who have often displayed challenging behaviour in a school environment demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship, showing it is not the winning but the taking part that matters.”

For further information on sponsoring, supporting or volunteering on the Bristol wheelchair rugby programme please contact Kris Tavender (ktavender@bristolrugby.co.uk).

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