Wheelchair basketball takes the stage in O’Leary
By Cindy Chant
Several curious participants experienced something a little different recently as a member of the PEI Mustangs demonstrated just what it is like to play basketball from a wheelchair.
“Anyone can play...there are kids with disabilities and don’t or may not have the option of playing competitive sports and don’t realize this option is available here,” said Stephen Farquharson, PEI Mustang player for the last eleven years. “That is what we want them to know that this option is available.”
Mr Farquharson, is able bodied and only started in the sport when he was attending the University of Prince Edward Island gym and saw people playing wheelchair basketball and asked if he could give it a try. “I have been playing ever since.”
Amongst the participants was nine year old Hannah Gallant of Fortune Cove who thought she might want to give it try.
Throughout the two hour demonstration Hannah enjoyed learning the rules of the game which differ a bit from the regular game of basketball for able bodied players.
“The only difference is the double dribble rule because we are allowed to hold onto the ball and still move...where regular basketball they have to dribble the ball the entire time players are moving,” said Mr Farquharson.
In the past, players from the PEI Mustangs used to have school programs set up across the island. Demonstrations were set up allowing students to get a taste of the sport, however the team was unable to make arrangements for the program this year, but are making an effort to get themselves noticed.
“We want people to get involved with the sport at an earlier age...try to do some early development. In this sport a lot of people who get involved are older,” said Mr Farquharson.
Currently PEI Mustangs play in a maritime league against several other teams from Halifax, St John and Moncton. ParaSport & Recreation PEI, a non profit organization, who provides recreation and sporting experiences for people with physical disabilities also gives funding for the team to compete in the increasingly popular sport.
“Once you get used to it the chair becomes a part of you,” said Mr Farquharson.