Recare sponsored ‘Muscle Warriors’ Powerchair Football Club seeks urgent donations
Captain of the Muscle Warriors Powerchair Football Club, Rhys Mallet, 27 from Hayes with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is spearheading a campaign to raise donations to keep his Recare-sponsored club going as running costs soar.
Rhys began playing for Reading Powerchair FC in 2010. In 2018 he joined the Muscles Warriors Powerchair Football Club (PFC) which is the sporting arm of the Muscle Help Foundation charity (MHF). Founded by influential Michael McGrath, the MHF is a small family-run charity which delivers transformational interventions for children and young people (8–28yrs) with muscle dystrophy and other neuromuscular conditions. These unforgettable experiences are called ‘Muscle Dreams’ – 657 of them, symbolic of the number of muscles in the human body; to date, MHF has delivered 440 Muscle Dreams. Events range from supercar driving experiences to meeting inspirational heroes and celebrities. The charity also helps to fund the Muscle Warriors PFC so they can compete in Regional and National PCF Leagues, however this support is becoming difficult to sustain.
Powerchair Football Club Leagues involve around 12 teams who compete over 40 minutes per game with 4 players on the pitch at any one time. Specially designed powered wheelchairs with sideguards and front bumpers are manoeuvred around at high speed to pass and shoot an oversized 330mm football. The Muscle Warriors PFC have achieved success over the years especially by winning the WFA National Championships in 2014. This season they are currently mid-table however the team continues to improve performance-wise with the aim for more goals in the remaining games.
The US built ‘Strikeforce’ powerchair Rhys plays football in was supplied by Recare – a mobility equipment specialist in Oxfordshire who have supported him since age 3. Recare have also provided Rhys’ day-to-day wheelchairs and sponsored him throughout his powerchair football career. Through this longstanding relationship with the Mallet family, Recare are keen to help Rhys raise awareness of the club’s financial challenges through marketing and social media.
Karen, Rhys’ mum explains:
“We first met Andrew Oakes of Recare 24 years ago when he started servicing Rhys’ powerchair. Over the years Recare have been so helpful to us, supplying both Rhys’ powerchairs, solving all our queries and sponsoring his Powerchair Football teams. The co-founder Richard is keen to help raise awareness about our financial situation, as like us, he believes playing Powerchair Football is vital for the whole team’s mental health and well-being.”
“As a parent dealing with companies who supply disability equipment, I always experience an outstanding attitude from Recare. They may be running a business but always put the needs of Rhys first and then work around from there. If we need a product, whatever it is, we always ask Richard and the team first as we trust them implicitly. Recare’s caring nature is reflected in the sponsorship of the Muscle Warriors PFC and their recent offer of free publicity reiterates this.”
The Muscles Warriors PFC train every weekend at Oaklands College, St. Albans (Hertfordshire), and average around 11 weekends of competitive fixtures per season. Meeting the cost of organising these games is the main difficultly for the charity with licences, insurance, pitch hire and league affiliation fees, amongst other overheads, rising. Providing ‘free to use’ specially built powerchairs is also important so potential new players can try the game without having to invest in their own product. Each powerchair costs around £11,000 so funding new products to boost their collection of six is currently impossible.
As with all charities right now, the need to help the Muscle Help Foundation and its Muscle Warriors PFC is more important than ever before. The ‘cost of living crisis’ has significantly reduced donation levels which is putting into jeopardy events and experiences that are vital for individuals with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular conditions.
Rhys hopes with Recare’s help he can drive change as he concludes:
“Powerchair Football is the only sport I can play that gives me a thrill. Without this sport I’d be devastated as would everyone in our leagues. We hope our campaigning will not only raise funds but increase awareness of the sport as so many people in the UK use a wheelchair but don’t know that PCF exists. It’s going to be a demonstration sport at the Paris Paralympics in 2024 so we’re hoping this exposure helps to grow the game. Whatever you can afford, however small, any donation to the Muscle Warriors or MHF will make a huge difference to not only our team but to anyone in the UK with muscular dystrophy who may be looking for an amazing, unforgettable Muscle Dreams experience.”