A Donegal man left wheelchair-bound following a road collision is bringing the sport of wheelchair rugby to the peninsula for the first time.
Darren Jackson, from Owenirk, linsfort outside Buncrana, has invited anyone interested to go along to Clonmany Community Centre on August 19 when an exhibition game between the Ulster Barbarians Wheelchair Rugby Club and the Inishowen Rugby Club will take place.
Darren said: “This is actually the first time this sport has ever been played in Inishowen, we played in Letterkenny once but not many turned up.
“Myself and a friend of mine, Neil Gillespie, who plays for Inishowen Rugby Club, were chatting one day and we thought it would be good to play against each other.
“Anyone can come and try it for themselves also, or just watch.
“I am the only player from inishowen at the moment. I travel to Antrim Forum every week for training - my cousin Damien Doherty is a volunteer with the club
“I have been in a wheelchair now almost 20 years after a car accident and took up this sport about five years ago after seeing it on online.
“It’s a very physical sport and when people see it for the first time they are quite shocked by how rough it is - it is a full chair contact sport, good exercise and gives you an interest.
“The reason we are bringing this to inishowen is to give the sport more exposure and to let people know it is available for anyone to get involved in as a player or volunteer etc.
“Non wheelchair people can take part. Specially designed rugby wheelchairs are used for the sport, ad they will take a lot of abuse and are a lot lower to the ground for better balance.”
Wheelchair rugby, originally called Murderball, is a team contact sport designed for quadriplegics with rules containing elements of ice hockey, gridiron and basketball.
The sport was developed in Winnipeg, Canada in the late 1970s and was designed as a quadriplegic equivalent to wheelchair basketball.
Since its introduction, wheelchair rugby has grown to become a truly international sport, with teams now competing from around the globe. Despite its recent formation, Irish Wheelchair Rugby (IWR) can boast significant achievements, both in mobilising athletes with a physical disability and winning honours for Ireland.
IWR is responsible for the development, promotion, and regulation of wheelchair rugby in Ireland. Wheelchair rugby was introduced to here back in 1997, thanks mainly to the efforts of Garrett Culliton after seeing the game being played while he was in the United States.
Today in Ireland there are currently four active clubs throughout the country.
The Clonmany event on 19 August takes place from 11.00am to 3.00pm.
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