Today in Parliament, Lucy secured a Westminster Hall debate encouraging more disabled officials, referees and umpires into sport. The debate was responded to by the Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP.
Lucy had secured this debate following a meeting with a constituent, John McIntear, a cricket umpire who uses a powered wheelchair whilst officiating. John was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2018, but raised the money for his own powered wheelchair through crowdfunding and support from the royal British Legion. Prior to his diagnosis, John was a qualified umpire and was determined that his diagnosis would not stop him continuing to umpire from his powered wheelchair.
John now wishes to push for others with mobility needs to also have the opportunity to follow their passions and officiate sports like him. It is sadly the case the many who wish to officiate in sport are hindered by their mobility – despite a greater focus on disabled sportspeople and athletes, this has not necessarily translated in the same support for officials, umpires and referees. John’s campaign, which is being launched later this year, is called Sports Officiating from a Powered Wheelchair (SOPW).
Powered wheelchairs can achieve the speed and manoeuvrability to ensure the safety of a broad range of mobility impaired people. John’s story has shown that, for suitable users, technology now allows for manufacturers to easily make simple upgrades to powered wheelchairs to make them safe for their owners to officiate.
Lucy Allan MP said:
“Today was a great opportunity to raise with the Government John’s story, and the campaign he is launching to encourage more disabled officials into sports.
John’s story and optimistic vision for inclusion is something we can all get behind, and I will be following DCMS’s progress towards more support for mobility impaired people to officiate in all sports. There is a real opportunity to promote inclusivity, especially with the upcoming 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
I have spoken to MPs across the house about this debate and am grateful to the Sports Minister for responding this afternoon.”
John McIntear said:
“Highlighting the importance of equality and diversity across all areas of sports activities, including officiating, is the ethos of sporting participation. Lucy has called ‘Play’ for mobility impaired individuals who wish to officiate by highlighting my determination and passion to once again umpire competitive cricket.
Just because I am terminally ill with lung cancer has not stopped me from being in the middle again. The inspiration to see other individuals, who are impaired because of a physical issue, has inspired me to leave a legacy for others to officiate in their own chosen sport.
The towns and communities that led to the creation of Telford are renowned as the Birthplace of Industry. This area of Shropshire is famous all around the world for its innovation, hard work, determination, and endeavour.
The interest created by the debate, assurances from the Minister and cross-party support will enable those with mobility impairments to become officials in their chosen sport. The opportunities are endless. Mobility impairment is no bar to officiating. If I can participate, so can you!”
You can watch the debate in full on parliamentlive.tv here.
Photos above: John McIntear (picture credit Shropshire Star) and Lucy Allan MP