Getting involved in parasport

Since the formation of the Paralympics in 1960, the popularity of parasports has only grown. At the 2024 Paralympics in Paris, there will be around 4,400 Paralympic athletes taking part. 

The Paralympics are a great indicator of how parasports can be at an elite level with participants pushing their limits and capabilities. One of the less obvious benefits is the support you will gain both surrounding your sport and on a personal level. 

If you are interested in starting a new parasport then here are some things to consider to get you started. 

Finding the right sport

Parasports is an incredibly varied term, with a number of different sports included. You will need to consider your interests and abilities. For example, if you love watching rugby then you may want to try out wheelchair rugby as an alternative. 

If you have recently become disabled then you could see if your favourite sport has been adapted. Cyclists will be happy to know that adaptive cyclists are an established community in the UK, with clubs across the country. 

Equipment and facilities

If you are looking to join a gym or club, make sure you check out their adaptive equipment before committing to a contract or set of sessions. Many gyms will offer free try-out sessions, so utilise those and talk to staff to see how your needs can be met. 

There are some ways to get support for specialist equipment in the form of loans or grants. These are designed to make participation in sports more accessible and universal. WheelPower offers funding towards equipment, travel expenses and a manual sport wheelchair for those who are interested in wheelchair sports. To qualify for this grant, you must be a current patient or have been discharged from a spinal injury unit within the last 5 years. 

Building a support network

Getting involved in parasport is not just about the physical benefits of keeping healthy and moving your body; it is also about creating a wider support network. 

Whichever parasport you choose, there will be an official organisation attached. They are a wealth of information and support, so it is worth reaching out to them with any questions or concerns. If your sport is associated with a certain type of disability, you may find there are support groups surrounding it as well. They are great for finding people to connect with and finding comfort with any mental struggles. 

Sport really does bring people together so you may end up with life-long friendships born from sporting sessions. You will be able to lean on these people when you find yourself struggling. If, for example, you are in the process of filing a claim for an amputation, your new support system can help you to process this challenge. 

Transitioning to parasports can be emotionally challenging for someone who has suffered a traumatic injury and there may be moments of frustration or self-doubt. Lean on your friends and family and you will be able to persevere and thrive in the world of parasport.