Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
EBBW Vale Wheelchair Sports club has existed for less than six months but is already doing wonders for its members’ physical and mental wellbeing.
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith joined the club for a wheelchair rugby session to find out more recently.
The club – which also plays wheelchair basketball, tennis, volleyball and more – hold Wheelchair Rugby Union 7s sessions each Saturday at Ebbw Vale Sports Centre.
The club welcomes disabled and able-bodied people of all ages and play rugby under a rule-set closer to traditional rugby union than Paralympic “murderball” rules.
Nick Smith MP said he was impressed with the work that has gone into a club which is so new.
The MP said: “I am a big supporter of anything which promotes a healthy lifestyle and there are loads of really good sports groups in Blaenau Gwent helping people keep fit and active.
“I heard some really great things about the positive impact Ebbw Vale Wheelchair Sports Club is having on its members and was delighted to be invited to take part in a session.”
Mr Smith took part in a rugby training session and game – which under the 7s rules includes line-outs, scrums and conversions – on a Saturday afternoon earlier this month.
He said: “It was a serious work out. Getting used to controlling the chair was difficult but I had a lot of fun joining in.
“The club members were very welcoming and, as well as working hard, had smiles on their faces the whole time.
“I think it’s great that Ebbw Vale has a club like this and hope people take the opportunity to get involved.”
The club was formed by Club Secretary Mark Turner, Head Coach Lyndon Price and Club Chairman Jason Reynolds in July this year.
Mark, who also plays for the club, said the club has already made a significant difference to his life.
“It’s made a 100% improvement on the mental side of things,” he said. “And it helps with the physical side too. It’s good to be part of a team.”
Coach Lyndon, whose son is also a wheelchair user, said he became hooked on wheelchair sports after his son began playing wheelchair basketball after being injured in Iraq.
Lyndon took up coaching after being inspired by the coaches he saw at the 2014 Invictus Games and is now part of the Welsh international rugby coaching team.
“I have quite low self-esteem, quite bad mental health problems,” he said. “What helps is taking part in something.
“Being part of a club is brilliant for fitness and it’s great to be able to talk to and spend time with people who are like-minded.
“We always end our sessions sweating and breathing heavily but we all come out smiling, laughing and joking.
“The club is also entirely inclusive. Anyone who can sit in a chair can play with us.”
Ebbw Vale Wheelchair Sports Club are looking for any new members or potential staff, coaches and volunteers to get involved.
Search Ebbw Vale Wheelchair Sports Club or contact Mark Turner on 07376 410176 or firstname.lastname@example.org