New initiative aims to even the playing field for disabled sport

Sun, Mar 26

Walking touch rugby, a new sporting initiative being piloted in Lower Hutt, could have massive significance for recreational opportunities in New Zealand's disabled community.

The trial, alongside walking football, intends to slow down our national game so Kiwis with and without disabilities can play together.

"The whole format of the games is designed so that everyone can play together. It's about a community that includes disabled or able-bodied people, anyone who feels they don't belong in a social sport space," said organiser Neelu Jennings.

Jennings is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of sport.

She climbed Mount Aspiring and Kilimanjaro, kayaked the Cook Strait, and is the first legally blind person to complete the Coast to Coast.

She believes disabled-only categories aren't truly inclusive, and she wants opportunities alongside able-bodied people.

"I didn't understand why we had such little choice in terms of what disabled people can and can't do in terms of sport," she said.

Participant Stephen Ben-Cummings said the initiative is "going to mean a lot".

"It's just really good to be active," he added.


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