A WHEELCHAIR rugby player from Coalpit Heath is hoping a fund raising event will bring him closer to his dream of playing for the GB team.
Matt Badman, aged 28, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get about.
But to play the sport he needs a made-to-measure rugby wheelchair, which costs about £3,500.
When players at Chipping Sodbury rugby club heard, they organised a 24-hour touch rugby marathon to raise money.
They hope the tournament will add to Matt’s own fundraising, to enable him to buy the chair.
The event will be held on May 19 at the club’s home ground at The Ridings, Chipping Sodbury.
Matt said: “I am really grateful for it – I didn’t expect anyone to help.”
He started playing three years ago after his girlfriend persuaded him to give it a go.
Matt said: “My girlfriend told me to go along, because I am a sporty person.
“I didn’t look back and I love it now.
“Wheelchair rugby is quite a brutal game – it’s fun, though, and is great for relieving anxiety.”
Matt plays for Taunton Gladiators, because there are no wheelchair teams nearer home.
He said: “I am trying to fund raise for my own personal made-to-measure rugby wheelchair, so if I get into higher level I don’t have to rely on a club chair any more, and can travel to play and not borrow one.
“My ambition is to play for Team GB in the Paralympics.
“Club chairs are not made to measure, so can be uncomfortable – literally a pain in the backside.”
The fund raising marathon has been organised by Lucy Lawson, a former Chipping Sodbury player who is now manager of Chipping Sodbury Touch Rugby team and one of more than 30 regular players.
She said although Matt doesn’t play with them, the Chipping Sodbury team all wanted to help a fellow rugby enthusiast – and she hoped that one day the club could have a wheelchair rugby team of its own.
Lucy said: “He was looking for sponsorship from the team and I thought maybe we could go much further than that, in the spirit of rugby.
“The touch rugby team is newly set-up and we are very inclusive, encouraging many different people to play.
“We set it up as an outlet for people who could not play any more – it started with some retired people who can’t play contact rugby any more, but we have seen new people who have never played rugby, aged from 14 to over 60.
“Wheelchair rugby is the next step – I would love to have a team based here.”
The Chipping Sodbury touch rugby marathon has a Just Giving online fundraising page.