Power hockey became the latest sport added to the Panathlon line-up yesterday at a Powerchair Athlete Day in Islington.
Nine children from three north London schools got their first taste of the sport – which uses special custom-built powerchairs – on an action-packed day that also featured powerchair football, boccia and powerchair slalom races.
The specialist powerchairs, each equipped with compressed air canisters that fire the hockey ball from the front of the chair at the push of a button, were provided by Greenbank Academy in Merseyside thanks to Panathlon funding from the City Bridge Trust and the Bulldog Trust.
After receiving training to help them get to grips with the new equipment, the children from Richard Cloudesley School, Hasmonean Primary School and Frank Barnes School, soon got stuck in to the new sport.
With confidence growing quickly, it wasn’t long before the players were throwing themselves into tackles with the chairs – all equipped with cages around the base – allowing for some big hits!
Amongst those students to enjoy the new experience was Ella Rose – a Year 4 student from Hasmonean School who initially had reservations having watched some of the boys banging in to each other but, by the end of the day, couldn’t wait to get stuck in and be part a part of the game.
“Ella is the only person in her school that uses a powerchair, said Caroline Rose, Ella’s mother. “We’ve been to a few events in the past and she is usually the only student in a powerchair, so to come here today where she can compete against other students on a fair playing field is fantastic.
“I think it’s the first time she has ever taken part in an inclusive team game of football or hockey! When she was asked to take a ‘corner’, I don’t think she had a clue what that meant!”
“It was wonderful to see her experience the speed and thrill of it all, gaining confidence and getting right into the action – and being crashed into! – things other kids take for granted, which for Ella have not generally been possible.
“She’s had a huge smile on her face throughout the day and it’s lovely to see. Thank you for a fantastic day.”
Along with the hockey, the children all enjoyed powerchair football, boccia and the powerchair slalom, which was won by Felix of Richard Cloudesley School in a time of 25 seconds.
After a long day of fast-paced sport, all students collected a medal as a reminder of the day, meaning they all went home happy.
“I’ve loved today,” said Abdi of Richard Cloudesley School. “The only other sport I play in a team is boccia, so it’s been really fun to play hockey and football because it is so much faster and skillful. I came last year and told my brother about it so he came along this year too. It’s been so much fun!”
Angel Louis, tutor of Ishmael Sullyman, echoed these sentiments.
“At present the only sporting activity Ishmael does is swimming, so today’s activity needs to be more often,” said Angel. “He’s smiled so much and been so enthusiastic and, for the last couple of weeks, he’s asked me every day when we were coming. Now he’s done it, he’s over the moon!”
Panathlon wish to thank the City Bridge Trust and the Bulldog Trust for making this event possible. We hope to be able to hold more of these days in other London locations in the near future, as the positive feedback from parents and students alike shows the need for this type of activity.