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Wheelchair rugby is a full-contact Paralympic team sport played indoors on a basketball court. According to the Wheel Blacks website (2018), this sport is also known as quad rugby and was created in 1976 by five Canadian wheelchair athletes. However, early organized games were already played in Wales by 1960. The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) explains that the first international tournament occurred in 1989 in Toronto, Canada, with teams from Canada, the United States, and Great Britain.
The IWAS (2018) also says that originally, this sport was created to be played by tetraplegics (quadriplegics), but, nowadays, there are many players affected by other disabilities whom practice wheelchair rugby. The Wheel Blacks website explains that to be eligible to play, athletes need to have some loss of function in at least three limbs and they go through a classification process to determine if they can officially play the sport.
According to Wheel Blacks website, Rugby with wheelchairs is a mixed team sport for male and female athletes and combines elements of many sports, including basketball, rugby and ice hockey. According to the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) (2018): “the players compete in teams of four to carry the ball across the opposing team’s goal line.” As in Rugby, this is a full contact sport where the contact between the wheelchairs is an integral part of the game and the athletes are constantly using their chairs to hold and block opponents, according to Wheel Blacks website.
The official Paralympic website explains that, nowadays, 29 are competing in this Paralympic sport and there are more ten developing national programs. Due to the wheel chairs impact, players may often get injured, with fractured bones and muscles, according to Wheel Blacks website. “The equipment used by the players is designed to reduce the risk of injury, and rules are in place to make the conduct of play as safe as possible”. (Wheel Blacks, 2018).
The Wheel Blacks, New Zealand national Wheelchair Rugby team, are participating of a Qualification Tournament for the IWRF World Championship. The tournament will be held in Switzerland and starts in April this year. As the team does not receive any kind of governmental help, excluding the loan of the building for the practices, they depend on donations and sponsorships. In this report will be developed a marketing strategy plan for the Wheel Blacks in the preceding period of this games, from February 8th to April 1st.
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