The launch of the Mersey Vikings got off to a sensational start over the weekend. Friday saw Trust in Widnes who started the new team held a taster training session at Riverside College’s, Cronton campus which had nearly a 100 students trying the game out, some of the students and staff then offered to take part in a warm up match for the main event on the Saturday.
The Hatton’s Travel Wheelchair Challenge which involved the Steve Prescott Foundation team of ex Rugby League legends against the current World Champions, the England Wheelchair RL team, brought a three figure crowd to watch this new form of Rugby League.
Ken Hatton of Hatton’s Travel, Halton’s MP Derek Twigg accompanied by Laura Harrison of Supporters Direct shook hands with both teams before the main challenge began and then watched the World champions defeat the Steve Prescott team after an exciting end to end game.
The Challenge drew interest from Sky Sports, Granada T.V. and local radio stations who all covered the day. The Mersey Vikings look set to now take off as Riverside College have offered to host the new club and include the sport within its curriculum. There have also been enquiries from schools across the area, eager for the Trust to organise in-school training sessions. It seems that the Mersey Vikings tick all the right boxes, in terms of accessibility.
A Trust in Widnes spokesperson said “We have immense admiration for the folk who play the sport on a regular basis, they really play to win and enjoy every minute of it and what a start for the new club! It was exhilarating to have Steve Prescott MBE and his team of ex-internationals willing to try this version of the sport. They all said it was one of the hardest games they had played but they still had a fantastic day!”
Mark Brennan Sports Tutor at Riverside College said: “I feel that this is a great opportunity for the college to engage in disabled sports, there are not many sports that both able bodied and disabled players can play on the same team as equals, and this sport ticks all the right boxes. With the Mersey Vikings basing themselves at the college, we have the opportunity to offer a range of wheelchair sports to all students within the college, I feel that this will be a positive experience as it integrating disabled sports into the curriculum and enrichment activities can only be of a great benefit to all students.”
The day concluded with a sportspersons evening attended by Steve Prescott MBE, Steve Hall and members of the Foundation. The audience were entertained by guest speaker, Robbie Paul who was kept in check by Master of Ceremonies, Dave Woods of the BBC.
It’s an exciting time for the sport of Wheelchair tag RL with new teams forming in Gateshead, Medway, Bradford, Nottingham and Wolverhampton. These will join the established teams in Halifax, Wigan, Leeds and Catalans who have been supported by their local professional clubs.