Wheelchair basketball game brings both rivalry and opportunity to Dundee
Courtside rivalry was as fierce as the on court action when two regional wheelchair basketball teams competed for victory during an exhibition match in Dundee on Saturday.
The mythically-titled Dundee Dragons and Lothian Phoenix, who are sponsored by the care providers Gowrie Care and Blackwood respectively, faced off on court at the weekend as part of a four hour event showcasing the various wheelchair sports opportunities available to people across Scotland.
In addition to cheering on their sponsored teams, representatives from Blackwood and Gowrie Care got involved in the action by trying their hand at the various wheelchair sports on offer – including rugby, badminton and basketball.
Damian McGowan, managing director Gowrie Care, said: “This successful day has been filled with fun and excitement, I greatly enjoyed trying out the different wheelchair sports, and I hope it has made sport seem more accessible to people with disabilities.
“The game between the Dragons and Lothian Phoenix was an absolute joy to watch and it created some friendly courtside rivalry between the staff from Gowrie Care and Blackwood.
“Gowrie Care is very proud to be entering our 3rd year of sponsoring Dundee Dragons and it is fantastic to see how the team has grown during this time.”
Since forming in 2013, Dundee Dragons has been setting Dundee alight with their positivity and the inclusive message that everyone can play sport, disabled or otherwise.
Dundee Dragon, Jay O’Reilly, explained: “I thought that sport was something that I would never be able to do again. I was very sporty before I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 14, after that I ruled sport out.
“When I found out that there was a wheelchair rugby team looking for players, I was very interested to find out more.”
After attending a busy try out session, Jay knew that the sport was for her. She explained: “Playing wheelchair sports with the Dragons has given back a bit of what I missed from my previous life.
“It certainly changed what I thought wheelchair sport would be like - I thought it would be boring and more for older players, but in fact the Dragons are made up of people ages 5 up to 65!
“It is also a very physical game, with lots of thrills and spills. The team definitely don’t hold back when it comes to playing rugby and we all encourage each other to do our best when taking part in the sport.
“For the Dragons, team spirit is not limited to supporting each other during games, and we are there for each other both on and off the playing field.
“As a group we all bring out the best in one another. We are not just playing rugby together; we catch up outside of sport as well. We now refer to ourselves as the “Dragon’s Family”.
There is no doubt that Jay would recommend the sport and joining the Dragons to other people who are in a situation similar to hers, the team also has a number of able-bodied people who play.
Jay explained: “There’s a whole bunch of the team members who aren’t disabled in anyway but they play in a chair like everyone else. The chairs make everyone equal on the field, where it is not about your disability but all about your abilities as a player.”
“For many of the disabled players on the team, being involved in the sport has changed their lives in a way that they never have anticipated so I would definitely urge people who are nervous or unsure about getting involved in wheelchair and disabled sports to take the plunge and to join a team.”
“Everyone in the team is really nice and we are always looking for new Dragons to join our family.”