BANGLADESH BASH - Developing Wheelchair Rugby
By Cherie Harris
Hot steamy conditions welcomed us to the colourful chaos that is Dhaka, Bangladesh in early April. Thanks to funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia, via support from Disability Sports Australia, the IWRF was able to bring a development clinic to Bangladesh.
Proving themselves in only 10 months (one delegate attended an IWRF regional clinic in Indonesia, in June 2016), Bangladesh went from an idea of introducing wheelchair rugby to having 24 players, keen medical personal wanting to classify, aspiring coaches and referees along with positive forward thinking administration. The Bangladesh Rugby Federation (Union) played an important support role in both attending the clinic as well as several executives stating they wanted to add wheelchair rugby to their umbrella of sports which already includes 15’s, 7’s and Autism Rugby. This was backed up by the Bangladesh Minister of Sport.
The thirst for knowledge was apparent from the beginning with an avalanche of questions and players wanting to get stuck in. The IWRF team were impressed with the level of ball and chair skills which is credited to CRP (Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed) having compulsory sport sessions every afternoon for rehab. These players improved greatly from day 1 to day 4, and focused on drills understanding why they were needed and what aspects of the game they covered. Coaches were taught at the same time as the players, and had an integral role in performing all drills. Referees and Classifiers had plenty of time in small groups with their trainers learning theory before becoming involved in the games (for the refs).
- A photo gallery of the clinic is available here.
All delegates of the clinic were provided with every aspect of the sport by moving in small groups round the five trainers. The feedback on this was positive with delegates stating they liked being able to learn about classification or volunteers or drills even though that wasn’t the area they were focusing on. The Australian High Commissioner witnessed the clinic in action and a rugby scrimmage on Day 3. The clinic culminated on Day 4 with a local coach led training and competitive game with local referees. While rugby chairs are still scarce, we do not see this as something that will hamper the progression of skills leading towards Bangladesh appearing on the international stage within the next four years.
The IWRF is grateful to Cherie Harris, Jon Corson, Katie Burke, Curtis Palmer, and Sholto Taylor for their great work as instructors in Bangladesh. We also recognize the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFaT), and Jenni Cole and Steve Loader at Disability Sports Australia for their efforts and support in making this clinic possible.