How to Host a Wheelchair Rugby Tournament
By: Meagan Rowe
Hosting a local athletic event can be a large task, but it is a great way to create community involvement and promote physical activity and inclusion. While your community may already organize annual runs and youth sporting events, try your hand at hosting an adapted sporting event like a wheelchair rugby tournament.
Wheelchair rugby, formerly known as murderball, is a full contact, hard-hitting sport played by people who have an impairment in three or four limbs. The game is played four-on-four on a standard basketball court with rules that mirror basketball, hockey and a few other sports rolled into one. At Lakeshore Foundation, we host an annual wheelchair rugby tournament called Demolition Derby. Over the years we have developed a blueprint to running the event and instituted some best practices to ensure things run smoothly. Here are nine tips of the trade you can follow when organizing your event.
1. Notify the United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA)
The USQRA is the governing body for club wheelchair rugby in the United States. Before you begin planning your tournament, contact the USQRA commissioner. This will get USQRA’s stamp of approval, allow them to post your event on the USQRA website, and spread the word about your tournament.
2. Invite teams
Once again, USQRA is a great resource for finding teams. You can use its team contact list to send email invites to teams in your area. Create a simple registration packet which requests team rosters, waivers your facility may require, and payment details.
3. Recruit volunteers
Great tournaments include great volunteers. Contact local high school and college athletic teams and booster clubs. These individuals should be familiar with running game tables, score clocks, concession stands and other tournament components. Local community groups are a good resource as well. Consider the sport you are hosting. A local rugby club may be interested in volunteering and learning about wheelchair rugby.
4. Secure officials
Tournament officials are just as important as players. Within the USQRA, each region of the U.S. has a Regional Agent in Charge (RAC). To get officials for your tournament, contact the RAC for your region. They will then begin the process of selecting officials that are appropriate for the level of play you will see at your event.
5. Understand player classification
Each wheelchair rugby player is given a classification number ranging from 0.0 to 3.5. This is based on how much function a player has and is determined by a series of tests run by a classification panel. Each team is only allowed to play up to eight total points at any one time, which creates parity among teams. Want to bump your event up a notch? Invite a classification panel to your tournament for all teams to benefit from.
6. Promote your event
Thanks to social media, promoting your event is simple and free. You can use Word, Pages or even Goggle Drive to create event flyers and schedules. Once you have created your documents, upload them to your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Create a Facebook event where you can invite fans, post tournament information, and even livestream the competition. Develop a tournament hashtag and tag community sponsors and organizations in your posts to create more followers and engagement.
7. Protect your courts
Wheelchair rugby is a tough sport, but don’t worry, it will not damage your facility. To maintain the court, use painters tape to outline the court dimensions. When players fall, place a large piece of cardboard under the player’s wheelchair before you flip them back up to avoid scratching the floor. At the conclusion of the tournament, attach tennis balls to the end of broom sticks and apply a bit of eucalyptus oil. This will help you remove any scuffs and clean the floor.
8. Adjust the thermostat
Most athletes who play wheelchair rugby have a high-level spinal cord injury which inhibits their ability to sweat and regulate their body temperature. Players can overheat easily, so it is important to keep the facility cool – ideally 67 to 69 degrees. If you have control of the thermostat, drop the temp. You can also bring in fans, provide plenty of water and ice towels.
9. Create inclusion
Hosting an adapted sporting event is a great way to introduce a new sport in your community and create inclusion. Invite local schools, community programs and athletic clubs to watch your event, but also consider scheduling an exhibition match during your tournament. You don’t need to have a disability to play wheelchair rugby recreationally. Use veteran players to instruct others how to play the game. This can help your community start its own wheelchair rugby team or recruit individuals without a disability to practice with the team to increase numbers.
Visit our website to learn more about Lakeshore Foundation and our annual Demolition Derby wheelchair rugby tournament.