By Lethbridge Herald on January 31, 2024.
By Justin Seward
A local wheelchair basketball team is ready to compete as tournaments hosts this weekend at the Fritz Sick gym.
The Lethbridge Steamers, formerly known as the Strong Arms, will be hosting their Prairie Division rivals from Calgary, Medicine Hat and Edmonton for a friendly two-day tournament at on Saturday and Sunday.
The Steamers partners with Medicine Hat, where both cities switch years in hosting a tournament in the south.
“It gives exposure to the community,” said Mary Dyck, Steamers manager.
“You may have been a sport person and now you have a mobility challenge and you think that you can’t play sports anymore. So awareness is a really big part of disability sport (and) being able to see that people are playing the game and getting out.”
The tournament also allows for players to haver supportive family and friends come out and see what the sport is all about in addition to the awareness.
Games begin at 9:30 a.m. on both days in the double round-robin, winner takes all format.
Anybody is welcome to come out and watch.
The age range for players is 16 to 60.
“It’s very inclusive, both men and women play together,” said Dyck.
“Some people are playing wheelchair because they have sore knees and some are playing because they have other challenges in mobility and this is the way they play.”
Lethbridge is made up of players from the city, Taber, Cardston and Raymond.
Dyck says there’s not a lot of turnover.
“We probably have between 12 and 25 in our membership at any given time,” said Dyck.
“But almost always on Thursday night, there’s always enough for two teams, sometimes with subs.”
Interested abled or disabled players are encouraged to come out and try the sport on Thursday nights from 6:45-8:15 p.m. at the Fritz Sick gym.The Steamers competitive team plays in the Prairie Division with Edmonton, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.
The team works a casino every three years and that money goes towards making the sport more accessible with the purchasing of chairs and allows of the drop-in program to be free.
They’re also supported by the City of Lethbridge Community Event Support Grant when both sides partner and the Makeadiff organization, which helps with grassroots sports in the province.