Powerchair Trailblazers reflect on how Cash for Clubs has helped their club

21/06/2017

Powerchair Football is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. When the Powerchair Trailblazers Club of Co. Antrim got the call to say they’d won £1,500 having entered their club for Topaz Cash for Clubs 2016, they were the delighted at the thought of being able to raise awareness of a sport which is still somewhat in its infancy and to also have the opportunity to build on the great strides made by the club over the past decade or so.

Powerchair Trailblazers

Six months after Michael Hilland attended an IFA wheelchair football event in Belfast in 2008 with his son, Trailblazers PFC was formed in order to provide an opportunity for people with physical disabilities to play football. Since then, the club has grown and developed with the help of committed parents and the supporting local community. In September 2013 Michael and Stephen McVeigh began coaching the team.

When asked what the Cash for Clubs win has done for the club and its members, Michael commented on the great improvements that have been made.

“Our Cash for Clubs prize win has been a great financial help for the club. The money has allowed us to replace tyres on the powerchairs and we will now be able to purchase tracksuits and tops for the new season in September.”

The interest in Cash for Clubs first came about when one of the club’s members, John Stewart, mentioned the Topaz initiative and suggested registering the team. Gordon Stewart, whose family business is the Topaz Airport Road Service Station, Tully Road offered to nominate the Trailblazers in the hope of them becoming one of the lucky winners. Following on from their win, the club is already registered this year and are urging more clubs to enter Cash for Clubs 2017.

The club provides people with disabilities from across Northern Ireland with the opportunity to participate in sport as well as socialise and have fun, and Michael believes the club’s involvement in Topaz Cash for Clubs has helped spread this important message by leveraging the support of the wider community.

“The prize has very much impacted the local community and has helped us achieve greater awareness of the club, letting other people with physical disabilities know that there is a football game that they can play and enjoy.”

Not only do Trailblazers provide a platform for young people with disabilities to express themselves and their love of the game, the opportunity to participate and be a part of a team environment is one of the club’s primary areas of focus, according to Michael.

“Everybody wants to have an identity and the players have built the identity of Trailblazers up over the past five or six years. That has given the players a sense of purpose in a social and competitive environment through which to enjoy football with their peers. That’s more important than the game itself.”

For more information on Topaz Cash for Clubs and to find out how you can support your local club into this year’s promotion, please visit: http://www.playorpark.ie/

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