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Red Deer Reapers wheelchair rugby team to host first tournament in June

From June 24-25 they’ll compete jamboree style
Red Deer’s first wheelchair rugby team called the Reapers is looking to recruit players to begin competing by next fall. (Photo by Red Deer Reapers/ Facebook)

With the help of Wheelchair Sports Alberta, the Red Deer Reapers are hosting their first-ever tournament called the Wheelchair Rugby Community Challenge.

After receiving a Participaction Community Challenge Grant, the Reapers were able to invite the Edmonton Steel Wheels Wheelchair Rugby Team and the Calgary Inferno to compete.

On June 24-25 at the Penhold Regional Multiplex, they’ll hold a jamboree-style event where players from all teams will be divided up. Once they’re determined they’ll play various games throughout the weekend.

Founder of the Reapers Gerry Kress told The Advocate the event is meant to be a fun exhibition tournament.

“It’s meant to get people out, particularly people in chairs to do something,” he said.

“So far, the players from Red Deer have not been exposed to any type of competition like that before. It’s going to be a more structured game than what we do in practice.”

Those who take part in the event can play at no cost and they also encourage new players to come out and give it a try regardless if they’re on a team or not. Hotel rooms will be covered in Red Deer and registration for the event will close on June 14th.

“We’ll probably go out for a social evening and so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he added.

The game is played with two teams of four players competing to score goals by carrying the ball across the opposing team’s goal line.

The players move around the court while carrying the ball and while doing that their teammates block for them while getting hit. You also have to either bounce the ball or pass it within 10 seconds and can only have four players on the court at one time.

It is a full-contact, high-paced sport that was brought to Red Deer in March of this year to form the Reapers.

The Reapers were formed with the goal of finding enough players to compete once the season starts in the fall.

The not-for-profit organization has seen strong interest from local residents. It is a mixed sport with both male and female players but in order to play you must have a physical disability such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, amputations, or a spinal cord injury.

“For anybody who fits that criteria, they should come out and try it,” Kress said.

Kress explained since the team’s inception things have been going well. They have yet to play a game outside of practice and are looking forward to the challenge.

“We’ve got a good start and we’ve got some dedicated players. There’s some new players on the horizon and we’ve got some tournaments coming up in September and November we were planning to go to,” he said.

“It’s coming along really well... The participants are loving it.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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