28 for 28: The new initiative by the British Wheelchair Rugby Association - Photo: GBWR

The British Wheelchair Rugby Association (GBWR) has launched the '28 for 28' initiative, a business strategy created to support the vision of wheelchair rugby becoming the leading disability sport in the UK by 2028.

The Paralympic sport has experienced steady growth, especially after the London 2012 Games. With this initiative, they aim to provide greater support and promotion to a sport with a singular goal—to become the most prominent disability sport in the United Kingdom.

This sport comprises three disciplines: Paralympic wheelchair rugby, wheelchair rugby fives, and wheelchair rugby three-on-three, with multiple leagues and over 35 clubs across Great Britain. The sport received an even bigger boost in the summer of 2021 with the news of winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

This mixed-gender sport will strive to defend its position in Paris 2024. However, beyond that, GBWR (the national governing body for wheelchair rugby in England, Scotland, and Wales) is looking beyond the Parisian games to ensure the future of the sport at a time when the cost of living crisis and inflation are significantly affecting players and potential participants in wheelchair rugby.

The research presented by GBWR in the press release, reveals that the rising cost of living disproportionately affects people with disabilities more than those without. Individuals with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to be inactive (43%) compared to those without disabilities (23%), highlighting the financial constraints faced by disabled individuals in pursuing sports and staying active.

Wheelchair rugby has the potential to empower individuals with severe physical disabilities, but without increased support, it will be challenging to reach and retain those who could benefit from the sport, especially with the ongoing rise in the cost of living.

To help ensure the future growth of the sport, GBWR has launched the '28 for 28' initiative, aiming to bring together 28 partners to join the sport's journey from the 2025 World Games in China to the 2028 LA Paralympics.

GBWR seeks to harness the collective power of a group that shares a common passion for inclusivity and creating opportunities for people with disabilities. The governing body has already secured the support of partners such as Socios.com, Allied Mobility, Get Kids Going!, Ascot Underwriting Holdings Limited, and Tokio Marine Kiln.

Jason Brisbane, CEO of GBWR, said: "The growth of the sport in recent years has been astronomical, but we still face challenges that could slow that momentum. We are still a small sport but have a significant role in ensuring that people with disabilities can lead active lifestyles and thrive."

"By launching '28 for 28,' we aim to work alongside a series of partners who share our passion to break barriers, advance inclusivity, and make dreams a reality. The opportunity for our sport is enormous, and we already have some fantastic partners who have joined to support us. Our ambitious vision to become the leading disability sport in the UK by 2028 demonstrates the journey we are on."