This month the Townsville and Districts Mendi Blackhawks entered a competition in which they were the underdogs. The left the match comprehensively beaten but thoroughly satisfied and better for the experience.

The sport was wheelchair basketball and the Mendi Blackhawks were facing the very talented Townsville Cyclones at Townsville Basketball Stadium on Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

Thanks to Donna James from Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association and the players at the Townsville Cyclones, the Blackhawks were able to try their hands at wheelchair basketball. The Cyclones have recently returned from the state championships in Brisbane and certainly put the league players through their paces.

Some of the Cyclones are war veterans with missing limbs. Others have been involved in accidents or have been stricken with illness. But all of them are outstanding athletes who inspired the Blackhawks with their strength and skill.

Davin, otherwise known as Bear, led the evening, firstly running through the warm-up and some skills and drills and then refereeing the scratch match. Fellow Townsville Cyclones Zac Schumacher, Jeff Wright, Pete Arbuckle, Ryan Williams, Devlin Dodd, Elvira Welboren, Darren McKenna and Glenn Musk generously gave up their Tuesday night to give the Blackhawks a sporting experience they won’t forget.

Mendi Blackhawks Captain Dan Beasley said the team would take a massive boost out of the experience. “All the boys definitely had a blast, although some of the finer skills were not quite up to par, the level of competitiveness was high.

“It was a great experience to get to try a sport that we would otherwise never get to try against men and women who are athletes just like us training to play a sport that they love.”

“If you went thinking that dribbling a ball or racing around in a wheelchair was easy, you found out very quickly that you were wrong when you combined the two.

“The opportunity offered us an insight into what it might be like to be confined to a wheelchair. It could put you in a negative frame of mind but the Cyclones were all about positivity and healthy competition.”

Wheelchair Basketball has minor adaptations to the rules to reflect the use of wheelchairs. It is played on standard basketball courts with standard height rings and backboards.

The game was originally designed as a rehabilitation and recreation activity for people with a spinal-cord injury. It is now enjoyed by people of all abilities.

Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association welcomes anyone to come along and try wheelchair basketball. They offer two free trial sessions for anyone who has not previously attended a wheelchair basketball program.

The Townsville matches are played from 6pm-6.30pm (juniors) and from 6.15pm-8pm (seniors) on Thursday nights for $6 (seniors) and $3 (juniors) a game at Townsville Basketball Stadium, Murray Lyons Crescent, Annandale. Anyone interested in trying wheelchair basketball can contact Donna James on (07) 4721 4881 or townsville@sportingwheelies.org.au.

Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association will be attending the Mendi Blackhawks Round 15 home game this weekend against the Ipswich Jets as the Community Corner Participants. Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association relies on public and corporate support to fund their life-changing sport and recreation programs for children and adults with a disability in the Townsville region.

If you are attending the match make sure you visit the community corner to buy a raffle ticket or make a donation to support people with disabilities to lead healthy active lives and achieve their sporting dreams.