June 12, 2015 - 12:24 PM
KELOWNA – It’s fun, safe and it benefits a worthy cause. And it might just give you a new appreciation for what many Kelowna residents live with every day.
The Kelowna KOs wheelchair rugby team are holding a fundraiser this weekend where kids and adults can try out their sport while raising money for the club.
Roll n' Bowl organizer and team manager Colleen Bryant says everyone from kids to adults are welcome to join at St. Joseph’s Elementary, 839 Sutherland Ave., on Saturday, June 13, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s like bumper cars but more fun,” she says. “Kids that are a little bit nervous at first say how fun it is as soon as they start bumping into each other and adults are amazed at how challenging it is physically. Everybody learns to appreciate the skill and the energy and physical ability that it takes.”
Wheelchair rugby is played indoors and although not entirely similar to traditional rugby, it shares many of the same objectives and challenges. There are time limits for possession and it’s also similar to hockey in that you can’t cross a line and pass the ball back. Points are earned by crossing at least two wheels over an 8-metre by 1.75-m key while carrying a wheelchair rugby ball, which looks similar to a large volleyball. How the players get into the key is where the excitement comes in.
“The ball isn’t thrown into a basket or anything, it needs to be carried in your lap or you have to have control of the ball,” Bryant says. “As long as your hand is on the ball and the ball is connected on to the wheel you can score.”
The ball is not the only specialized piece of equipment used. The chairs, which run upwards of $5,500 each, also vary depending on the position played.
“For the offensive players the chairs are in kind of a circular shape and defensive players they’re oblong shape with a picker on front to hook onto the offensive chairs.”
After the scrimmage the event moves to Capri Valley Lanes for a few frames of free bowling from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will also be pizza followed by a silent auction of items donated from the community.
The money goes towards the upcoming KOs season, including equipment and travel to out-of-town tournaments.
Their goal is to raise $1,500.
“Anybody can get in a chair and try it,” she says. “All of our chairs have waist belts and foot straps and every part of the athlete is protected. It’s totally safe.”
Anybody interested in learning more should visit the Kelowna KOs website.
The third annual Kelowna KOs Roll n' Bowl takes place this weekend.
Image Credit: Contributed
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