In 2013, the Wheelchair Football Association were given a huge boost in their quest to build the sport of powerchair football. The organisation was awarded £350k of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Inclusive Sport programme, their plan was to deliver a 3 year project to raise awareness and provide opportunities for people to become involved in Powerchair Football.
The project concluded last month and has been an incredible success. Over the past three years, the WFA has made a real impact on the development of Powerchair Football in England.
In addition, the number of affiliated clubs has risen from 38 to 55 (17 new), the organisation has delivered 14 coaching courses (230 new coaches), supported the creation of 6 regional league structures, trained 34 new officials as well as increasing the profile of the sport.
However, the project ends this month and now the WFA are looking at ways to continue developing the sport and support the capacity required to help the fastest growing disability sport in England.
The North of England had a mixture of developing and well established clubs at the beginning of the project.
Kat Easson, who is based at Hedleys Sport, part of The Percy Hedley Foundation, in Newcastle, has worked closely with some of these clubs, helping to create a lot more opportunities for people to play Powerchair Football.
She has delivered 135 sessions in her host region and 145 sessions for new and developing clubs, which included transporting equipment and education for coaches and volunteers.
Since the start of the project there have been 6 brand new clubs set up across the North. Whilst in her role Kat has also been involved in the creation of the North East Regional League which is now running 5 events a year and allows over 60 people to participate at a competitive level.
Powerchair Football is a fast, dynamic sport that is designed for people who use electric or manual wheelchairs and caters for a wide range of impairments. Due to the sports unique nature it allows for people of all ages and both genders to participate together.
Ricky Stevenson, Chairman of the WFA said: “The past three years has really seen Powerchair Football explode within England.
“Thanks to the funding from Sport England and the hard work of our staff, we have been able to go out and introduce many new people to our sport. Unfortunately, due to current issues facing the funding of sport in England, we find ourselves in a difficult position.
“The WFA are currently looking to restructure the association to deal with our loss of capacity, but we will continue to work to find the best way to support our clubs, players and the wider Powerchair Football family.”