Hucks feels the pace at Norwich City Powerchair Football Club
A former Norwich City hero was put through his powerchair paces for Sport Relief last night.
After being warmed up with some set pieces, Darren Huckerby was thrown into the deep end at a training session with Norwich City Powerchair Football Club at the UEA Sportspark last night.
The visit was organised by Sport Relief, which last year gave �1,000 to the club.
Huckerby said: 'The sport a lot harder than it looks, and the guys are really good. Any sport takes dedication and these players come down and train hard – their disabilities don't get in their way.
'They enjoy it, and they play to win – and it's fantastic that Sport Relief money is made available to support them.'
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Powerchair football is a four-a-side game, played with a 33cm-diameter ball on an indoor basketball court in two 20-minute halves.
Guards are fitted to everyday wheelchairs to allow players to control, block, pass and shoot.
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Vice-captain Johnathan Byrne, who has played for the club since it was founded in 2007, said: 'In powerchair football, you need awareness, communication, and a bit of knowledge – exactly the same as normal football.'
The team finished fifth in the 10-strong league in their first season last year, and currently top the Championship.
If results go their way this weekend, they could be promoted to the Premiership, said head coach Jamie Robinson.
'Last year we were complete novices, but this year we have learned and got that bit more experience,' he said.
But because so few clubs play, arranging fixtures can be a difficult – and costly – exercise, with all the chairs to be transported and overnight accommodation for players, carers and families.
'It's a big regular expense for people to accept, and we have to do a lot of travelling every year. We are trying to get fundraising and sponsorship, but it is difficult.
'We hope getting to the Premiership will help us.'
The club receives funding and support from the Community Sports Foundation, though the allocation for hiring a training venue ends next year – which makes grants such as the Sport Relief Community Cash more vital than ever.
Mr Robinson said: 'We need the funding to pay for transport, for accommodation, for equipment. Without Comic Relief funding, we just wouldn't have been able to participate in the league.'