When you rely on a powerchair for work, little details can ...Read More
Getting involved in sport is a great way to get out, meet new people and stay physically active. There are many sports that can be experienced using a powerchair.
Boccia is a sport originally developed for athletes with cerebral palsy, but it has now also become popular with others whose disabilities affect their motor skills. It is one of two Paralympic sports that do not have an equivalent in the Olympics, the other being Goalball.
Jamieson Leeson comes from a sporty family in the small Australian town of Dunedoo and has gone a long way to play Boccia in her Magic Mobility V6 AT.
First introduced to the sport as a 15-year-old in an inter-school tournament, she was scouted by the Australian Paralympic team head coach and, two years later, went to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
In May this year, at the 2022 BISFed World Cup in Rio, Jamieson teamed up with Dan Michel to take out the gold medal in the BC3 pairs. What an achievement!
“Growing up with my disability, I wasn’t able to play any sport, which was a bit hard being from a very sporty family,” she said. “I’d always go to my siblings’ football games, swimming or netball or whatever they were playing. I’d always be there on the side lines cheering them on. Then when I discovered boccia, it made me feel like I belonged. It gave me a sense of identity, knowing that I was able to compete in a sport like the rest of my family.”
Jamieson is keen to let others with a disability know what a positive thing playing boccia can be for someone with limited mobility.
“There are so many people out there with a disability who probably don’t know about it and I just think, it changed my life so how many other people’s lives could it change? Before I started playing boccia there were no competitive sports I could participate in. When I started playing competitively it gave me something to really focus on, apart from my studies. Especially now, it shapes who I am. I wouldn’t be who I am today without this sport.“
Marlene Katene, an Extreme X8 user, is another inspiring Australian who has set herself the challenge of becoming the first person with Cerebral Palsy to get a base jumping number by making at least one jump from each of the four categories; buildings, antennas, spans (bridges) and earth. Marlene explains how her X8 plays a vital part in making that possible. “One jump I am planning is at Shipwreck Island in Greece, and the launching point is 1.5 km from the road across rough ground. Without this chair there is no way I could have done this without hiring a harem of strong men. While that is appealing, this chair makes the goal more attainable.”
A music journalist who also owns a jumping castle business, Marlene loves skydiving and attending music festivals. She is living proof of just how much someone with a disability can achieve with the right friends, attitude and the right set of wheels.
You can check out a YouTube video of Marlene’s KL Tower jump here.
Another sport designed to be enjoyed by users is powerchair soccer. Originating from France in the 1970’s, this sport is now played all over the world, with teams of four competing on standard basketball courts.
Craig Kilby from Melbourne, Australia is an enthusiastic powerchair soccer player. While he mostly gets around in his Magic Mobility V6 Hybrid, he competes in a different chair, to which a special guard has been fitted. He currently has a brand new Magic 360 on order, too.
Talking about the importance of sport in his life, Craig says: “As well as following sport, I actively participate in sport through Victorian Electric Wheelchair Sports Association (VEWSA). In my role as Vice President I contribute to organising the various sports we run; including hockey, balloon soccer, rugby and powerchair soccer. I have been a member of the Victorian Powerchair Soccer state team since 2011. I like to test the limits of my capabilities on the sporting field.” And how does that make Craig feel?
“I feel complete, I feel whole and being able to play sport has made me more confident,” he says.
Whatever your abilities, there are lots of ways to have fun and get involved with others through sporting clubs and community associations. Some of the other competitions our users have told us about include archery, powerchair frisbee and target shooting. As the saying goes, you never know until you give it a go!