Credit: Anthony Hayton Photography

Getting Settled In

Dear members

In keeping with tradition, I thought now would be an appropriate time to write my first blog post. It has been one week since I took over as your new CEO; and what a week it has been. I was extremely excited to begin this role knowing how much potential the sport has. However, the historic gold-medal victory achieved by the GB wheelchair rugby team has raised that excitement to a new level! Media coverage of the win has been immense while the players have been inundated with media appearance requests. I think it is fair to say we are currently the nation’s favourite team.

Channel 4 reported that 1 million people tuned in to watch the gold medal match. This made it the second highest viewed Paralympic event at the Tokyo Games and the highest viewed team event. This clearly demonstrates that the wider public are excited by wheelchair rugby and there is real potential for future viewership of our elite competition.

An incredible platform has now been created putting more eyeballs on the sport than ever before. I would urge all members to continue to capitalise on this interest by increasing your team’s social media presence, ensure your contact details are up to date, and monitoring emails/social inboxes.  Our aim is to ensure the entire wheelchair rugby community benefit from this win for years to come.

Getting settled in

Since joining at the start of July I’ve had the privilege of working alongside your former CEO David Pond. David has kindly shown me the ropes and done his best to download as much information as possible from his decade of service. By no fault of his own he likely hasn’t shared everything however what he has shared has been invaluable and allowed me to build a solid foundation from which to move forward.  I’m immensely grateful for his support. I have also had the pleasure meeting with a wide range of individuals across our funders such as Sport England and UK Sport as well as many of you, the members, at the Big Rugby Return festivals at Durham and Stoke Mandeville (Saturday). It was fantastic seeing the sport live and hearing the real-life stories of the personal impact wheelchair rugby has had on so many of you. It very much confirmed the importance this organisation has on our community and that it is so much more than a game. I hope to see many more of you at our upcoming events and competitions.

Last week’s signing ceremony with Kitakyushu Mayor Kenji Kitahashi

David and I also had the privilege to join Kitakyushu Mayor Kenji Kitahashi for a virtual signing ceremony, to renew the memorandum of understanding we have with the Japanese city. Members may recall that we originally partnered with the city in 2019, when the Mayor and a delegation from the city joined GBWR in Leicester to sign a memorandum of understanding against the backdrop of the King Power Quad Nations. The intention was to use the city as the training base ahead of Japan-based competition including the Paralympic Games – regrettably we were only able to visit the city ahead of the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in 2019, but I understand the team were all humbled by the enthusiasm and generosity of the city and its citizens – many of whom continued to support us on social media throughout this year’s Games! We look forward to continuing this partnership and visiting the city ahead of future competition.

We have the AGM on September 22nd where I will hopefully see many more of your faces (albeit digitally) and will provide some insight into our plans for GBWR going forward.

It’s great to be on board and I look forward to working with you all in the future.

Jason Brisbane