Inspirational para sports festival launched in Swansea
The 2023 Para Sport Festival was launched this weekend outlining an even bigger week-long, multi-sport and multi-venue event that is returning to Swansea Bay between Monday 10 – Sunday 16 July.
The event is designed to inspire and engage people of all ages and abilities to participate and spectate in disability and para sport.
The second edition of the highly successful Para sport event returns this summer with a wide range of events to spectate and participate in.
On show will be Para Golf, Boccia, Deaf Football, Wheelchair Rugby, Para Fencing, and Target Shooting competitions, plus the free ‘Take Part’ insport Series event.
Last year’s inaugural Disability Sport Wales and Welsh Government funded festival was a huge success, with organisations such as Wales Golf, Tennis Wales, the WRU, Welsh Gymnastics and the Welsh Wheelchair Basketball Association all reporting big increases in enquiries immediately after the event.
Building on that success, the 2023 Para Sport Festival will be on a larger scale, with more national status tournaments and more opportunities to get involved – as a participant, volunteer, or spectator.
“The Para Sport Festival as a whole is an excellent opportunity to showcase the first-class opportunities available in Swansea to a greater audience, and to give us a fantastic platform to continue to build over an initial three-year period,” said Disability Sport Wales CEO Fiona Reid.
“This is a model that hasn’t been used anywhere else where a number of sports exist and connect across one city and the level and profile of those sports increase incrementally.
“What we would like to see is greater numbers of people coming to spectate the events, but also come along to the insport Series event [SPAR] which is something similar to today.”
“From the outset, the aspirations for this Para Sport Festival are focused on developing a genuine legacy of both participation and competitive opportunities for disabled people in Swansea and beyond,” explains Robyn Wilkins, Disability Sport Wales Para Sport Festival Senior Officer.
“Following the success of the inaugural event last summer we are delighted to see the event return in July 2023 with a growing schedule of competitive para sport events. We’re looking forward to welcoming some back from last year and are excited to grow Swansea and Wales’ reputation as a go-to venue for elite para sport events as we welcome a number of additional events to the growing schedule
“The opportunity to highlight the wide range of possibilities for disabled people in Wales will be supported through free spectator tickets to all the competitive events and live stream options, but it is not possible through these events alone to inspire disabled children, young people and adults into inclusive or para sport.
“We’re therefore pleased to announce that the Para Sport Festival events programme will also see the return of the SPAR insport Series event to highlight the range of inclusive grassroots opportunities to a greater audience. With over twenty sports on offer, delivered by a network of Welsh and British National Governing Bodies of Sport, and great local insport Clubs, the event will provide the perfect platform for individuals to find their own journey within an inclusive physical activity.”
Athletes attending the 2023 Para Sport Festival launch included Harrison Walsh (2022 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist), Kyron Bishop (Osprey Wheelchair Rugby player), Michael Jenkins (teenage para-athlete and rising star), James Ledger (visually impaired sprinter), and Beth Munro, who won a silver medal in Taekwondo at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, just two years after taking up the sport.
“I was proud to be at the launch of the very first Para Sport Festival last year and I’m delighted to be back in Swansea to help promote this year’s event,” enthused Beth Munro.
“The 2022 Para Sport Festival was incredibly successful, both in terms of the high level of tournament competitions and how many people of all ages and ability came to try out sport for the very first time.
“It was lovely to see people try sports that were completely new to them, because I know how life-changing getting out and attending an event like the Para Sport Festival can be.
“I went from attending a Disability Sport Wales insport Series event in North Wales for the first time, to being introduced to taekwondo and going on to win a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo – all within the space of two years!
“Dreams do come true, and nothing is impossible. And I have the medal to prove it!”
The new-look 2023 Para Sport Festival will commence on Monday 10 July with the Welsh Para Golf Open, to be played at the wonderfully picturesque Langland Bay Golf Club.
One of the biggest participant days will be on Tuesday 11 July, when an insport Series event will take place at the Indoor Athletics Track at Swansea University (Singleton Park Campus).
Last year, over 200 people, many of whom had never tried sport before, took advantage of this free event to come and participate in over 20 different sports. Each of which was delivered by local insport clubs and national governing bodies, who also brought along qualified coaches.
“Disability Wales gave me an opportunity from rugby because I had all that drive to push forward but I didn’t have an outlet,” explained Harrison Walsh.
“It helped me understand my disability from Rugby, because coming from that environment it was a challenge because I didn’t really get talked to about it.
“I had a call and they just talked about things, they offered a lot of different sports to have a go at and I had a go.
“Shotput and Discus was one of them and I was really awful in them, but that it all I was looking for. I wanted some progression. Some people see it quite quickly, it suited me physically, but I could see myself getting better.
“It was the challenge I really liked with the way that the Paralympics works. I was really challenging event for me to do; I really wanted to test myself.”
The Indoor Athletics Track will once again be packed with different sporting activities to try, including indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby, gymnastics, table tennis and target shooting – with each participant receiving a fabulous goodie bag. The event is open to all ages and all abilities, and the venue is fully accessible.
Wednesday (12 July) and Thursday (13 July) will see the Boccia UK Team Championships. This is a significant new tournament for Swansea, as local hero David Smith OBE – the triple gold medal winning Paralympian and world number one in Boccia, lives in Swansea Bay, a soft leather ball’s throw away from Singleton Park.
Friday (14 July) sees the British Para Fencing Championships and Welsh Para Open Target Shooting competitions get underway, as well as the Deaf Football International match between Wales and Scotland.
The Wheelchair Rugby Welsh Open takes place on Saturday (15 July), while the Para Fencing and Target Shooting competitions conclude on Sunday (16 July).
Saturday also sees the World Triathlon Para Series Swansea take place, with IRONMAN 70.3 Swansea concluding the week-long festival of sport on the Sunday.
“I’m delighted that we’re able to support Disability Sport Wales in bringing this event back to Swansea and that the city will, once again, get a chance to demonstrate its expertise in successfully hosting a major para sport event – following on from last year’s successful event,” says Dawn Bowden, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport
“This reaffirms our commitment to the development of disability sport and providing a further platform to promote sporting opportunities for disabled people. The event also makes the most of the city’s fantastic waterfront location – and we look forward to welcoming the athletes to Swansea and Wales in the summer.”
“We’re delighted to welcome back this outstanding event as part of a world-class week of sport in Swansea,” enthused Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council cabinet member.
“It promises to be a memorable and exciting few days for athletes, spectators, support teams, our local communities and those trying out some of the activities for the very first time.
“The 2023 Para Sport Festival – together with the World Triathlon Para Series Swansea and IRONMAN 70.3 – will reinforce the city’s reputation as a welcoming, diverse sporting city, capable of hosting major events.
“We’ll continue to work with the event organisers to ensure that local people and businesses have every chance to plan for and to enjoy these exceptional events.
“We want to inspire local people to compete in sport and to enjoy it in other ways too.”
For a full list of events at the Para Sport Festival, please go to: parasportfestival.co.uk.
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