This week is Parents in Sport week, a chance for all sports teams and organisations to recognise the endless car journeys, early mornings, late nights and the unconditional support on the touchline.

Without the mums and dads doing all the work behind the scenes, children up and down the country wouldn’t be able to experience something new and start to forge their own sporting futures.

GBWR would like to thank our team of parent volunteers that can be found at almost all of our clubs and we would also like to thank the parents who also support their children and help them play wheelchair rugby.

At a recent BT Super Series, GBWR caught up with Graeme Waddell and Shareen Stokes, a couple of parents who were volunteering for DMP Bulls and Canterbury Hellfire respectively.

Mum of Canterbury 1.5 player David Barber (17) and father of Bulls youngster Josh Waddell (14), both Shareen and Graeme devote a lot of their free time to wheelchair rugby, not only helping their children but also supporting the rest of the team in which their child plays for.

“Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays we are always pretty busy. Josh is one of three, a triplet, with two sisters so we have to find time for the girls as well. But as long as they’re happy then we are happy.” Said Graeme.

Shareen added: “On average David trains for nine hours per week and then you have to add the travel to that so maybe around 15 hours per week for his wheelchair rugby.”

Being a parent doesn’t just mean offering a free taxi service with both Shareen and Graeme volunteering to get the most out of their trips with their children when competing up and down the country.

Shareen said: “As a volunteer for me the biggest thing is meeting new people. It is an exciting sport to watch. I have always been into sports and I really enjoy being a part of the wheelchair rugby club. I switch off as Dave’s mum when I am here. I am more focussed on the team so the mum role usually gets left in the changing room.”

Both children agreed that having their parents around when they are competing helps them perform on court: “It is really good having Dad around, when everyone is hot headed and the adrenalin kicks in on court, he is always there to calm me down and help the team as well.”

He just talks to me, when I’m a bit tense he is there to help and he calms me down. He is very important as I wouldn’t be here without him to drive me around and I wouldn’t be able to experience some of the things I have done without him.” Said Josh.

David added: “When I get things wrong and I get frustrated when playing wheelchair rugby, mum helps pick me up and motivates me to keep going.”

Both parents couldn’t express enough how sport has helped their children develop: “Parents should definitely do something. Sport has changed David’s life. He has gone from being quiet and not wanting to join in, or struggling to join in, to someone who will put himself forward, He isn’t shy now, he is well spoken and confident and he now has a vision with where he wants to go and what he wants to do.” Said Shareen.

“Just get involved. When Josh plays rugby, he has a smile on his face and he plays with a great set of lads. It has benefitted him massively, the experiences of meeting people and competing up and down the UK and internationally, it is hard to put into words.” Concluded Graeme.

Nathaniel Holland

Supporters