For a few hours on Saturday, some Brant residents got a taste of what life is like for those with physical disabilities.
Players on 13 teams took part in the annual wheelchair basketball tournament hosted by the North Brantford Lions and Canadian Pioneers at Branlyn Community Centre.
The tournament, a fundraiser for Brantwood Community Services and Participation House, gives members of the able-bodied public new insight into the challenges faced by clients of those organizations, said Doug Hunt of Participation House.
“The players have fun, but after the game they can get out of the chair,” Hunt said. “I think when they go home, they’ll have an understanding of what it is to be in the chair permanently.”
That message hit home for Brantford firefighter Mike Boschman.
“You have a tendency to want to step out of the wheelchair (while playing), but people who have to use them don’t have that luxury,” he said.
Boschman and his colleagues from the Brantford Fire Department main station took on a team of County of Brant volunteer firefighters.
“Everything is made for (able-bodied people) in society, so it’s a challenge for people with disabilities,” said Brantford firefighter Ed Glover. “(The tournament) makes people more aware and we’re happy to be here.”
Aside from a few blisters courtesy of the unfamiliar wheelchairs, players quickly got the hang of moving the ball down the court. A team of Brantford city councillors even showed off their co-operation skills.
“Everyone’s enjoying it and it’s for a good cause,” Boschman said.
Brant MPP Dave Levac, a former basketball coach, good-naturedly warned players to mind their elbows.
“It’s a little rougher than regular basketball, I can tell you that,” Levac said.
Hunt said this year’s tournament is the biggest yet, with proceeds to be divided equally between its two beneficiaries.