Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) and iSPORT, the charity founded by former All Blacks Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ali Williams, have announced a joint project to drive public awareness and raise funds to help young people with impairments excel in sport. The announcement came as the sun rose in New Zealand on 3 December, the international date marking United Nations Day for Persons with a Disability.
iSPORT gives grants to teams and individuals in local communities, with a focus on core needs such as club fees, equipment, coaching and travel. iSPORT and PNZ reached an agreement to work together after identifying that there were low applications from people with impairments. iSPORT hopes that with the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games less than 300 days away, the increased media and public interest around the New Zealand Paralympic Team will inspire young people with impairments to try para-sport and apply to iSPORT for support. PNZ hopes that increased participation will help talent spot Paralympians of the future, with PyeongChang 2018 just three years’ away and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games just five years away.
Richie McCaw, iSPORT founder and former All Blacks captain, said: “When we set up iSPORT, Dan, Ali and I really wanted a ‘sport for all’ approach. We’ve all been there ourselves. We know that getting into sport is one thing, but staying in sport is another thing if you cannot afford things like club fees or equipment. This is multiplied when you are a young person living with a disability because you often need special equipment that comes with a high price tag. There are also not as many local clubs or competitions, sometimes you have to travel. We want all kids to have access to sport and be the best they can be in the sport they love, no matter their circumstances.”
Fiona Allan, Chief Executive Officer of Paralympics New Zealand, said: “Paralympics New Zealand is working very hard, through its newly launched Spirit of Gold Initiative, to increase awareness and raise funds to support the growth of Para-Sport in New Zealand. As a charity, we rely on a mix of donations, government funding and commercial investment to run our sport and community programmes. To secure the support of kiwi sporting icons like Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ali Williams, is huge. We have no doubt that the work we do with iSPORT will have lasting and long-term benefits for the sector.”
The idea for the project was first inspired when iSPORT founder Ali Williams met with young members of a local wheelchair basketball team earlier this year, after they were granted funding from iSPORT.
Carol Armstrong, Sportsforce Parafed Sport Development Officer, Sport Waikato said: “We were thrilled to receive funding from iSPORT for the Parafed Waikato Wheelchair Basketball Development team this year. The team could not have been more inspired when Ali Williams came and presented the cheque in person. He also got to experience the game by getting on the court with the team. The funding ensured that the team was able to enter the National Championships and gain valuable experience competing with some of the top teams in the country. Being involved at the Nntional level has fuelled the players’ passion for the sport and they are looking forward to continuing to play next year including defending the Bruce MacCormack Cup at the Junior Nationals.”
Individuals and teams can apply for iSPORT funding at http://www.isport.org.nz/how-it-works/.
To get involved or to find out more information about PNZ, please visit http://www.paralympics.org.nz.