A WHEELCHAIR rugby player from Coalpit Heath has played his first match in a tailor-made chair, thanks of the kindness of rugby players and fans.
Matt Badman made an appeal for help to buy a specialist wheelchair, after getting hooked on the sport.
And Chipping Sodbury Rugby Club stepped up to help.
A fundraising touch rugby marathon in June brought in more than £6,180.
Matt’s own fundraiser made another £3,300, including £1,000 from Frampton Cotterell Rugby Club, raised during a club tour to Cornwall, and another £500 from Frampton’s juniors.
Together the appeals have raised enough not only to buy Matt his own custom wheelchair but to help other players on his team.
Previously he had to borrow a chair that was not made to measure, and was uncomfortable. He said the new chair made all the difference.
Matt, who has cerebral palsy, plays for Taunton Gladiators because there are no wheelchair teams near home.
His first game in the new chair was in a tournament at Stoke Mandeville, known as the birthplace of Paralympics.
Matt said: “I played in all the games, and it was really good.
“It was more or less pain free, because the chair was made to fit me. I was faster and could move about better. You need it to be a snug fit so you can’t slip about. You use your hips to move it, to turn left and right.
“With your own chair, you can really play to your full potential.”
More than 120 players and supporters from Sodbury RFC joined in the club’s sponsored event.
It was organised by Lucy Lawson, a former Chipping Sodbury player, who now manages the club’s touch rugby team.
Lucy said: “We doubled our target and have now been able to help three additional players from Matt’s team! The extra money raised bought spare tyres, which be very expensive, as well as a whole chair for one lady player.
“The fund raising also raised awareness – I would love to see a wheelchair team in this area in the next few years.
“It gives people such a lease of life to be so active, which is important for them.”
Lucy said the Chipping Sodbury club plan to visit Matt at a home game.
She said: “We’d like to be there to support him at a game soon, and we are talking about another event – maybe a 24 hour wheelchair rugby event.”
Matt said: “Lucy spent hours and hours sorting it out and I’m so grateful to her and the rugby club – it’s mind blowing really what the community can do.
“It was great to meet the players. I was overwhelmed how many turned out to help my appeal. I’d glad they raised enough to help other team members too.”
Picture: Matt Badman (centre) with some of the Chipping Sodbury RFC fundraisers