The competitive spirit was high when a team of veterans and serving military personnel took on professional rugby players in a game of wheelchair rugby.
Members of Darlington Mowden Park Rugby Club’s 1st XV team visited Help for Heroes Phoenix House Recovery Centre for a tour before taking part in the challenge.
The round-robin tournament saw the players from DMP split into three teams to play three games of 14 minutes. While the Phoenix House team put up a good fight, they were narrowly beaten by DMP’s team B to come in second place.
Jake Henry, winger for Mowden Park, said he found using the wheelchair hard work on his arms.
He said: “It’s really demanding physically, especially on your upper arms. It’s an honour to play among people who have served their country and paid a great price for us.”
Jake, who comes from a military background himself, said he was very impressed by the work being done at Phoenix House.
He said: “It’s phenomenal and the facilities are second to none. Hopefully we will have more days like this where we can get involved too.”
Veteran Seveci Navelinikoro served 12 years with 1st Battalion the Mercian Regiment with tours of Iraq, Afghanistan, Belize, the Falklands, Northern Ireland and Kenya.
The 36-year-old from Catterick was injured after the vehicle he was travelling in was blown up on November 19 2012.
Before his injuries, he used to play a lot of rugby and said it’s great to be able to now play wheelchair rugby.
“This brings me back to the sport. It’s a great work out,” he said. “It’s very challenging as it’s hard to control the ball at the same time as the wheelchair.
Hilary Conway, Supported Activities Coordinator for Help for Heroes, said the event could become an annual fixture.
She said: “Most, if not all, of the participants, especially from DMP, had never played wheelchair rugby before so it was an opportunity for them to try a new, if somewhat familiar, sport on an even playing field with wounded Serving military personnel and veterans.”
Anyone who served in the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines or Royal Air Force who needs the support of Help for Heroes Phoenix House Recovery Centre in Catterick can self-refer by calling 01748 834148.
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