December 2019-January 2020 | Features

Disability given a sporting chance

Disability given a sporting chance

Cardiff’s National Indoor Athletics Centre was the focus of activity for hundreds of youngsters, with a range of disabilities to be introduced to sport. It was all thanks to the efforts of Rotary in South Wales.

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Eleven years ago, a popular disability sports showcase was in danger of folding. But thanks to the support of Cardiff Bay Rotarians, Disability Sport Wales’ ‘insport’ series is thriving.

28 disabled sports were showcased recently at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff.

The aim of this two-day, free event is to ensure that sport is accessible to people, especially children, of all abilities by encouraging them to try out something new and discover talent which they didn’t know they had.

Friday was reserved for schools and clubs when this huge arena became filled with the noise and excitement generated by 750 children. Saturday was for families, allowing more time with the coaches to learn more about individual events.

This is an excellent example of great things being achieved when Rotary partners with other organisations to deliver real benefit to our community.”

Cardiff Bay Rotarian Phil Steele has been our link with insport from the start. He explained that Rotary became involved in 2008 following the withdrawal of a key sponsor.

Cardiff Bay Rotary stepped in to help with funding and ensure that the event could go ahead. “We’ve maintained that partnership every year since,” said Phil. “The real pleasure for us is seeing the smiling faces of the children and showing that there are no limitations to what they can achieve and the enjoyment which participating in sport can give.”

insport series

28 different sports, including tennis and gymnastics, were showcased at the free event at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff.

Disability Sport Wales’ Chief Executive Officer, Fiona Reid, is delighted with this 11-year partnership.

She said: “Rotary’s support allows us to provide the opportunities showcased and participated in by so many disabled people and their families, friends, teachers, and partners.

“It is very much appreciated by us, but more importantly by the hundreds of people who come through the doors.”

In addition to breaking down the barriers and opening up a new world of sport for many, some sportsmen and women have progressed from discovering their talent at this event to becoming elite athletes.

The real pleasure for us is seeing the smiling faces of the children and showing that there are no limitations to what they can achieve.”

In turn, their achievements have become an inspiration to others such as Mia Lloyd, aged 11, from Cardigan.

In May 2017 Mia was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. The primary tumour was in her left femur but had also spread to her lungs.

The treatment at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital in Cardiff was tough but her parents kept on assuring her that she was very brave and that they were extremely proud of her.

insport series

Wheelchair rugby was hotly contested

She didn’t see it as being brave, she just wanted to get better and to continue to make them proud.

In the middle of treatment, she had life-saving surgery, with an above knee amputation at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.

This operation also gave Mia the best chance of a return to the sports she loved such as golf, athletics and climbing.

She quickly learnt to walk on her new prosthetic leg and the golf course in particular is a great place to practice – the fairways and greens are full of slopes and undulations which help to perfect her balance and gait.

Mia, now a Welsh international, is on an elite training programme and at the Cardiff showcase was passing on her own experience to encourage others.

insport series

Participants took to the track to try out wheelchair racing.

In recent years, the event has been joined by a growing group of volunteers who spend the day as part of their employer’s Corporate Social Responsibility commitment and who are pleased to wear the Rotary logo for the day.

This year it was the turn of people from Deloitte, Admiral Insurance and Lloyds Bank to help out at all the events.

Wheelchair-bound Ceri Hughes from Admiral Insurance was thrilled to have been a part of the occasion.

He said: “A visually impaired little boy wanted to have a go, I guided him towards the target, advised him how to stand, placed the ball down and moved the club to ensure that he hit the ball.

“As he hit the ball, he scored. I told him his score and he just beamed. He handed me back the club but then pulled my arm towards him for a hug and thanked me for letting him have a go.”

insport series

Rotary has been involved with the games since 2008.

Southern Wales’ District Governor, Peter Hamilton, was also an impressed spectator.

He said: “Without Rotary’s support over many years, this event would not be running today.

“This is an excellent example of great things being achieved when Rotary partners with other organisations to deliver real benefit to our community and raise our profile in the process.”

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