Wheel Blacks take on Aspiring Beauty Queens

It will be an interesting wheelchair rugby match for our national team, the New Zealand ‘Wheel Blacks’ when they take on Miss World New Zealand 2013 contestants on Saturday, 12th January at 5.00pm, held at the Otara Spinal Unit.

This event aims to showcase just how fun wheelchair rugby is, as well as promote an upcoming Miss World NZ fundraising event.

For Wheel Blacks Team Captain, Dan Buckingham the sport he loves is challenging, confidence-boosting, a lot of fun and allows him to just enjoy being in the moment on court. Eight years on the team’s Gold medal at the Athens Paralympics is still a major highlight.

Despite the big win, two close but fatal losses four years later at the Beijing Paralympics meant the ‘Wheel Blacks’ fell on hard times. Mr. Buckingham says, “funding was cut, we had a great coach who came to the end of his tenure, and some senior players called it quits we became under-funded, under-travelled and under-trained. Results reflected the monetary support we received.”

Currently, the ‘Wheel Blacks’ are largely funded by players, family & friends and are in need of sustainable sponsorship.

One member of the Miss World team, Northland’s Esther-Jordan Muriwai, is also disabled with a crippling respiratory condition called Bronchiectasis. Spending much of her childhood in Whangarei Hospital’s Children’s Ward, it was “practically her second home”.

Despite her limitations, Miss Muriwai is excited to face the trials of this weekend’s game as she says 2012 was the year she chose “to challenge myself, break the barriers, and do all the things I thought I could never do”.

Fellow Miss World contestant, Rasa Pescud is using the opportunity to create an artwork, by applying paint to the player’s wheelchair tyres and laying a large sheet of canvas on the court.

The artwork will be part of a collection sold at an upcoming fundraising exhibition Miss Pescud is currently organising – proceeds will contribute to funding the ‘Wheel Blacks’.