The Irish Wheelchair Rugby team have appealed for the public's support ahead of their first-ever participation in the Wheelchair Rugby World Championship.
The so-called #WheelsInGreen are in final training sessions before heading for Sydney for the tournament which is taking place from August 2-10.
The team took part in a qualifying tournament in Nottwil, Switzerland, in April and completed a clean sweep of victories in winning all their games.
The squad of eight players and four staff have been preparing hard for the Championship and face Japan in their opening game on August 5. They have other pool games against Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and hosts Australia.
The team have asked for the public to assist in funding the trip
Speaking about the upcoming tournament, Team Manager, Lynn Cromie explained: “The Irish Wheelchair Rugby Team had an intense and physical year as we competed to qualify for the Gio 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships.
"We need the support of all Irish rugby fans to finalise our attempts to take home the world title. It will cost the squad and support team approximately €20,000 to facilitate the round trip to Australia and we are appealing to our supporters, hometowns and all rugby fans to get behind the wheels in green this summer.”
This August, Sydney will host the @IWRF World Championships and for the first time in their history an Irish Wheelchair Rugby Team will compete. IWA are asking all rugby fans to support the @WheelsInGreen this summer. To make a donation visit https://t.co/5ujIdQDSSX pic.twitter.com/KMmObPzHXi— IWA (@IrishWheelchair) July 16, 2018
Corkman John McCarthy, an experienced Wheelchair Rugby player, said: “We are very reliant on fund raising to cover the costs of this trip and we are doing everything from sponsored cycles, table quizzes and bucket collections to raise money.
"I raised almost €4,500 in a sponsored marathon push in my hometown of Dunmanway, Co Cork. I was delighted with the support.”
According to John, wheelchair rugby has played a huge part in his life since he became disabled after an accident at the age of 18.
John says wheelchair rugby is good for both the body and the mind and is helping many Irish men and women put their lives back together and to focus on the future. He said the sport gets people active again, keeps them fit and instead of focussing on their disability players concentrate on doing well in a game with their teammates.
The team has been able to purchase sports equipment thanks to €25,000 of National Lottery Good Causes, including specially designed wheelchairs which cost around €5,000 each.
Wheelchair Rugby is a Paralympic Sport and was first introduced to Ireland in 1997. The sport has been supported since then by the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) -Sport, the national governing body for wheelchair rugby in Ireland.
IWA-Sport has a dedicated donation page which is currently accepting donations from individuals and organisations that can assist the rugby team in Australia this summer.
To make a donation, and for further information about Wheelchair Rugby and the upcoming Gio 2018 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships please visit: https://iwasport.com/get-behind-the-wheels-in-green-this-summer/