Coventry youngsters benefit from Playing Advantage
A Coventry-based community sports club for young people with disabilities has secured the backing of four local sporting athletes following a successful first year.
The Playing Advantage club – which is organised by Wasps Rugby Club’s community coaches – has grown from 17 participants to averaging more than 30 per week since its launch 12 months ago.
The club is targeted at young people aged between six and 19 years old with any type and level of learning disability, and allows them to take part in a variety of sporting activities centred on a rugby theme.
To support the growth of the club, three-time GB wheelchair rugby Paralympian Mandip Sehmi, GB wheelchair basketball star Charlotte Moore, GB wheelchair Paralympic sprinter Kare Adenegan and England deaf rugby team captain Luke Cheyne have come on board as ambassadors for Wasps Community.
They will support the delivery of the weekly Sunday classes at King Henry VII School Sports Centre alongside Wasps Development Officer Jordan Young and Baginton Field School teachers Sean Noone and Mark Rawlings.
Jordan Young, Development Officer at Wasps, said: “We are so impressed with the growing success of the club so far and expect this to continue for 2018.
“The club gives these young people an opportunity to gain independence, get active and make new friends in a safe environment – and as word of mouth has expanded so have the number of people turning up from across the West Midlands.
“To receive the support of accomplished athletes such as Mandip, Charlotte, Kare and Luke has given everybody connected with the club an added boost, and will be able to add a new dimension to the sessions for these young people, providing them with inspirational role models to look up to.”
The Playing Advantage club has also introduced over 100 new young people with disabilities to sporting activities, including a joint-training session with young people from Saracens RFC.
The funding for the activities comes from Wasps Rugby Club and from Premiership Rugby.
One of the Playing Advantage Club’s new ambassadors, Mandip Sehmi, is hoping his personal story can help to inspire the next generation of sportspeople.
Sehmi was involved in a car accident in 2000 which left him with a permanent spinal cord injury, and during his rehabilitation he was introduced to wheelchair basketball where he was eventually scouted for the Great Britain Development Squad. He went on to represent his country at Beijing in 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016
Mandip, from Leamington, added: “I hope that by being involved in the club, it will inspire other local young people to follow their sporting dreams and realise they are not limited by their disabilities.
“I first became involved in wheelchair rugby through clubs like this one which inspired me towards my eventual journey to the Paralympics, something which I had never previously thought possible.
“The growing success of this club is also really encouraging for Coventry’s City of Rugby project which I am actively involved in, which is aiming to make the city a world leader at every level of the sport by 2023.
“I’m really looking forward to working with all of the other coaches over the coming months to help make a difference to so many young people’s lives.”
For more information about the Playing Advantage club, email firstname.lastname@example.org