Gold for Australian Steelers at IWRF Asia-Oceania Championship
(Pretoria) The Australian Steelers, reigning Paralympic Champions, claimed yet another victory today by beating Team Japan 55-48, and crowned the IWRF 2013 Asia Oceania Champions at the LC De Villiers Sports Complex, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
It was fitting that top goal scorer of the tournament Ryley Batt opened the scoreboard for the Steelers, and proceeded to own the score line in putting 12 of his entire match tally of 26, passed the goal in the first quarter alone. As seen during the first three days of the tournament, Chris Bond took over the scoring duties and racked up a further 19 points for the Australians. The scoreboard showed little difference in the first two quarters. It was through Daisuke Ikezaki scoring 30 of the 48 goals for Japan that kept the pressure up. Only in the third quarter, however Australia pulled away and extended their lead to eight through the masterful play of both Batt and Bond the sole scorers of the quarter. In the final end game although Japan managed to pull one back, Australia took the well played and crowned worthy champions.
Earlier in the day hosts South Africa played the New Zealand Wheelblacks, once again showing that through international competition, a team definitely improves its performance. Okker Anker top scorer for South Africa put 10 points on the board, with worthy contributions from Kat Swanepoel, Victor Buidendag, and Jared McIntyre. New Zealand’s Captain Dan Buckingham, Cameron Leslie and Rob Hewitt were the top scorers for the Wheelblacks in this match, proved too strong for the local hosts, and brought home a total of 65 to 33 points at the final whistle.
South African Wheelchair Rugby chairman Clyde Holland, and member of the local team stated, “it was certainly a privilege to have hosted this tournament. To have the opportunity after four years out of international competition, to play against these top teams has provided our team with immense knowledge and experience to take us forward.”
Lack of funding is the main challenge facing wheelchair rugby. This international tournament became a reality only through a small team of local volunteers, and the generous support of donations from local corporates DHL, Nedbank, Klipdrift and the City of Tshwane who sponsored Team SA.
Local South Africans have witnessed this week just how this sport not only provides exciting viewing, but also inspires people who have been disabled to see just how this sport greatly assists in improving physical agility. For those who missed out highlights of the tournament will be shown on SABC 2 on the 1st and 8th of December 2013.