Sunday 20 October 2019

Wheelchair hurling with RehabCare

Staff and service users who use the RehabCare Bray service
Staff and service users who use the RehabCare Bray service

Mary Fogarty

Fergal Ogs Gaelic Games has teamed up with Rehab Care Bray to hold the first-ever able-bodied/wheelchair Hurling Blitz, featuring local fire-fighters and gardaí, GAA players and people who use RehabCare's services.

The event will take place at the Fergal Ogs GAA pitches, beside St Kilian's school in Bray, on September 7.

If it's raining, then the games will take place in the St Kilian's hall.

RehabCare service user Cian O'Neill came up with the idea for this innovative, inclusive event.

He is inviting teams to register to take part on the day.

Cian is Youth Ambassador for Fergal Ogs GAA and, as a wheelchair user, he has always wanted the opportunity play the sport of hurling against able-bodied people.

Cian's vision is for all GAA clubs to eventually be open to this idea, making Gaelic Games a fully inclusive sport.

'Hurling is my life, my passion and it is my dream to be a valued hurler in the GAA community, the same as everyone else,' said Cian.

Obviously there are limitations as to what I can do as a hurler, but sports should be and need to adaptable and flexible so that they can be enjoyed by all.

'I hope that all clubs embrace this concept and follow in the steps of Fergal Ogs, so that children growing up no longer get separated for sports.

'Us wheelchair users should be allowed to play mainstream sports.'

Cian is asking for two players from each of the able-bodied teams to step into a wheelchair for their match.

This will not only raise awareness, but will prove his dream is possible - that able-bodied people and wheelchair users can be a team.

Aoife O'Sullivan, Community Support Worker with RehabCare Bray, said: 'All at RehabCare Bray are very pleased to have collaborated with Fergal Ogs GAA Club in what we hope will prove to be a fun, active and competitive partnership.

'Opportunities such as these play a huge part in connecting us with other organisations and public services doing great things for the Bray community.'

Angelique Lowe, Fergal Ogs GAA Secretary said: 'When you hear the word disability, people automatically think of things people can't do, we at Fergal Ogs don't see that.

'Our aim is to stop segregation of these two factors, promoting integration and equality and our club as a place where we can all find joy together as one team.'

Anyone who would like to take part in the event can contact Aoife on 087 2536097.

There is a €1 fee for spectators, and a €10 fee for players.

Bray People