Ultimate guide to accessible sports clubs in the UK
6th April 2023
There are many people who struggle with limited mobility in the UK, with over 20% of the country’s population being disabled. However, those who are reliant on home mobility aids such as a new stairlift or a mobility scooter to help them stay mobile are still able to participate in sport thanks to accessible clubs.
Though many sports may initially appear to be off-limits to people with limited mobility, there are lots of accessible clubs in the UK that have adapted to their members and through special equipment or targeted training, have helped their members to have a more active future.
What accessible clubs are in the UK?
This guide looks at what sports are accessible to people suffering from mobility problems as well as some of the best wheelchair-accessible clubs in the UK that you can join.
- Athletics clubs
- Badminton clubs
- Wheelchair rugby clubs
- Archery and shooting clubs
- Wheelchair basketball clubs
- Water sports clubs
- Disability football leagues
- Wheelchair tennis clubs
- Other sports
Clubs sit at the heart of athletics in England and in recent years more and more of these clubs are becoming inclusive for all.
Now wheelchair users and people with a disability are able to join clubs and take part in a variety of different events. Below is an example of one accessible athletics club in the UK.
Cambridge and Coleridge Athletic Club
This athletic club based in Cambridge welcomes wheelchair racers, and it has expanded to a more adaptive training program.
Dr Neil Costello, a coach at Cambridge & Coleridge Athletic Club, speaks about why wheelchair users should consider joining an accessible athletics club.
“Accessible athletics clubs will be keen to encourage participation, not just elite performance. At Cambridge & Coleridge we have running frames and racing wheelchairs which are used by a very wide range of people, as well as ambulant athletes. We exercise in safe conditions in ways that often help people to manage their disability and have the exhilaration of being able to challenge themselves physically. They have fun with like-minded people and share advice and ideas. It's a great way to get fit - or keep fit - and to have the mental and physical inspiration from working with a lively bunch of friends.
“Some athletes find they want to take things as far as they can - to train and seek out high levels of competition - and that's great but our underlying goal is to create an environment in which people can fulfil themselves and become the best they can be whatever their level.
“Joining a sports club is different from joining a social club. In many respects, it's the same but it differs in that members are expected to try hard - to improve if they can - not just meet for a chat and fun - though having fun is definitely permitted!”
Badminton clubs provide high-quality playing and training opportunities for thousands of players across the country, and there are lots of clubs which are open to players who are wheelchair users or who have mobility problems.
Below is one of the best wheelchair-accessible clubs for badminton in the UK.
Devon Racqueteers has previously been voted badminton club of the year and this is down to the fact it is accessible for people with any type of disability. With both coached sessions and free play, this club is a great opportunity to join a lively community and try your hand at one of the UK’s favourite sports. With no joining requirements and all standards of players welcome, this club is really accessible to everyone.
Rowan Crossman, the club chairman, spoke about joining a badminton club: “I would say the benefits of joining an accessible badminton club is for people's health and wellbeing, a good way to make new friendships, keeping fit and being able to access sport, both on a social and competitive level.”
Wheelchair rugby clubs
Not sure what wheelchair rugby is? It is a team sport for athletes of any gender with an impairment. The object of the game is to carry the ball across the opposing team’s try line and it involves full contact between the chairs.
It is an accessible sport that you can get involved in and there are plenty of clubs you can join. Glasgow Wheelchair Rugby Club is one great example and you can read more about them below.
Glasgow Wheelchair Rugby
For those based up north, the Glasgow Wheelchair Rugby Club offers you the opportunity to play this increasingly popular sport. The club’s main aim is to get as many people as possible involved with wheelchair rugby in Scotland. Thus far they have attracted players from all over central Scotland and have built not only a strong team but also a strong community amongst their members.
Donald Hutton from the club, said: “You don’t have to be a wheelchair user to play wheelchair rugby, if you have mobility issues this could be the sport for you!
“Everyone in the team has mobility issues from the most severe to the least, where there is usually an active role for each participant.
“This is one of the more inclusive sports there is, open to both sexes, ages eight years and upwards, and most abilities and disabilities. Members that maybe not ineligible to play in the official competition are welcome to come along and gain in the well know benefits of playing a team sport, from the increase in physical and mental wellbeing to the social interaction.”
Accessible dance clubs
Image credit: Ar4en
Whether you’re into hip hop, ballet, samba, the boogie-woogie or the merengue; there are inclusive dance classes and groups all around the country for you to explore!
These clubs not only allow people with a disability to learn about the dance they’ve dreamt of trying as well as being a great place to meet like-minded people. Here is an example of one great inclusive and accessible dance group and school for beginners in the UK:
Para Dance UK
Samantha Parry from Para Dance, who provide inclusive dance opportunities across the country both online and in person, said: “Our aim is to develop and promote dance as a sport and an inclusive leisure activity for those who would otherwise be excluded.
“Joining an inclusive dance club has many benefits; as well as helping to improve physical fitness, balance and co-ordination our sessions also provide a fantastic opportunity to connect with others, make new friends and most importantly have fun.
“Our expert Para Dance instructors have vast experience in delivering sessions to suit and adapt to all participants’ abilities. All of our sessions cater to all mobility aids and can be enjoyed either standing, seated by wheelchair and/or power chair users making our dance sessions accessible for all.”
Archery and shooting clubs
Archery and shooting are two of the most inclusive and accessible sports, so there are many opportunities for disabled people to get involved in both sports.
Most clubs in the UK run taster sessions or beginner courses and once you join a club you can take part more regularly and then compete in local competitions, or progress to a national or even international level.
Deal & District Rifle Club
For those based in East Kent, the Deal & District Rifle Club has an adapted space, so people can hone their aim and learn to shoot a variety of weapons at both moving and fixed targets. The indoor range allows members to practice all year round on four 25-metre lanes.
Disability Shooting Great Britain
Disability Shooting Great Britain offers people with a disability the chance to practice target shooting. Shooting is a technical sport, and it requires people to have an ice-cool temperament and very good concentration.
The great thing about target shooting is that it is accessible to people with a wide range of impairments. The group has helped British shooters win medals at Paralympic Games since 1976, including three at London 2012.
The group can advise you on any clubs that you live near that you can join.
British Wheelchair Archery Association
The British Wheelchair Archery Association is a massive supporter of those who have tried adapted archery at a local club and wish to take it further. Training the elite ready for national competitions and even the Paralympics, they offer training weekends and coaching programmes.
Kent Archery Association
If you live in the county of Kent, then the Kent Archery Association is the perfect place to start if someone is looking for an archery club.
As the organiser of tournaments and championships, the association is very involved with the sport. They also help bring together lots of clubs in the area, many of which offer accessible and level indoor and outdoor training grounds such as the 1066 Archery Club just outside Tenterden, Kent.
Wheelchair basketball clubs
Wheelchair basketball is a brilliant sport for players of all abilities to be involved with and it doesn’t matter whether you are a more experienced player or are new to this beautiful game, everyone can develop their playing skills to improve performance.
The rules for wheelchair basketball are quite simple, it is a team sport, played on a standard-sized basketball court, and everyone plays the game using a sports wheelchair. There are two teams of five and the game consists of four quarters which are 10-minutes long. Teams have 24 seconds from taking possession of the ball to making an attempt on the basket.
Below are some of the wheelchair basketball clubs in the UK you can join.
The Bury Bombers are a wheelchair basketball club for all the family. They offer monthly sessions for children between the ages of 4 and 8, while older children, teenagers and adults can join their weekly sessions in the appropriate group.
Wheelchair basketball can be a contact sport, but that shouldn’t put people off. The Bury Bombers take on people of all ages and abilities so those based in Suffolk, near Bury St Edmunds, should definitely go join this lively community.
As fierce as the animal they are named for, the Warwickshire Bears Wheelchair Basketball Academy was set up to offer wheelchair basketball to people of all levels and all ages across Warwickshire, Solihull and the West Midlands.
This club is committed not only to their sport but also to breaking down adversity and running many community projects alongside their training. The club’s mission is to inspire and support everyone facing obstacles in life and encourage them to turn these challenges into opportunities, however difficult that may seem.
They welcome both disabled and able-bodied players (there are wheelchairs people can use) to take part in this increasingly popular sport.
Water sports clubs
You might think that wheelchair users and other people with mobility issues will never be able to take to the water, but there are water sports that have been adapted to make them inclusive for everyone.
There are lots of clubs and projects in the UK which specialise in offering water-based activities for wheelchair users and people with mobility problems.
The Woolverstone Project
For people who hunger for a taste of the open water, The Woolverstone Project offers sailing opportunities for those with limited mobility on the River Orwell. The Royal Harwich Yacht Club invested in the project back in 1993 when they felt their sport should be accessible to all.
The Woolverstone Project offers opportunities for those who have sailed before while full-bodied and wish to reclaim old skills or have never sailed in their lives and want to try their hand at something new. The project also enters competitions and even has some of its members compete for Team GB.
Sussex Sailability is run by volunteers and with over 10 adapted vessels to be helmed and crewed, ranging from single-handers to speed racing boats, there is sure to be something that appeals to everyone.
The Sussex Yacht Club premises at Shoreham have been modified for disability access. Sussex Sailability has installed hoists onto the jetties to lift sailors to and from their wheelchairs.
Unfortunately, members have to be over the age of 14 as Sussex Sailability choose to sail on coastal waters, which though more interesting, requires this age limit.
Kingston Kayak Club
Kingston Kayak Club in East Yorkshire offers a range of disciplines that can be practised in their indoor and outdoor facilities.
If you want to take part in an activity that will give you an adrenaline rush, then kayaking is a sport you should consider taking part in. The Kingston Kayak Club enjoys recreational canoeing on some of the most attractive water in the area, namely Pocklington Canal, Frodingham Beck and the upper stretches of the River Hull.
There is also plenty of opportunity for some fierce competition, whether it’s white-water rafting, canoe slalom or canoe polo.
Since para-rowing events were added to the World Rowing Championships and Summer Paralympic Games, Team GB has known great success, including gold medals.
Scottish Rowing is keen to encourage people of all abilities into the sport in an effort to inspire the community and keep up the success thus far. One of the top clubs in Scotland and the UK for people with mobility issues is the Strathclyde Park Rowing Club. It is at the heart of adaptive rowing and through a range of facilities and expert training, they are able to accommodate most needs.
Visit the Ahoy Centre
If you are living in London, you can visit the AHOY Centre. It is perfect for people who want to take a break from the city and feel a bit closer to nature. Not only does their centre and facilities have complete wheelchair access, but they also have a very special craft: ‘The AHOY Freedom’. She was commissioned specifically by the centre for a mixed ability crew with state-of-the-art technology to allow the disabled crew to steer and skipper her.
Disability football leagues
There are now lots of football clubs and teams that offer you the opportunity to take part in football and the FA is aiming to deliver a range of opportunities that sustain and grow opportunities for disabled people to participate and excel through football.
There are lots of clubs that cater for disabled access and there are many disability football leagues. Below are some of the leagues you can take part in.
Kent Disability Football League
What began as a small pilot scheme back in 2005 has grown to over 50 small-sided teams regularly taking part in the League, making it the largest County Disability League in the country. With clubs across Kent taking place, the league is inclusive of all ages and abilities. The Kent Disability Football League is banded by abilities so individuals play at an appropriate level.
Wheelchair Football Association regional football leagues
There are lots of regional football leagues for players with a disability. The Wheelchair Football Association (WFA) has 6 Regional League competitions to help provide competitive opportunities on a “local” level. These leagues are independent leagues with their own committees and league structures. The regional wheelchair football leagues are:
- South East PFL
- North East PFL
- South West PFL
- West Midlands PFL
- North West PFL
- East Midlands PFL
Wheelchair tennis clubs
Wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest-growing wheelchair sports in the world and it is played in the same way as able-bodied tennis, with the only exception being that a wheelchair tennis player is allowed two bounces of the ball.
The sport has been made a full medal sport at the Paralympic Games since 1992 and has been played at all four Grand Slams since 2007.
Below are some clubs you can join and resources to use to join an accessible tennis club in the UK.
The Tennis Foundation believes that tennis is a sport for absolutely everybody, that it can be adapted to any physical needs and be enjoyed at any skill range, from the complete novice up to the international athletes. To prove this claim, they offer to supply specialist equipment to help people get started on their journey to their new favourite sport. The Tennis Foundation will help you find a club near you so you can get involved and join this vibrant community.
Taunton Tennis Club
Taunton Tennis Club runs two sessions a week on indoor courts for wheelchair users. It doesn’t matter your age or level of disability; you will enjoy their sessions regardless.
All you have to do is to bring yourself and the club provides specially designed wheelchairs, rackets and balls.
Shrewsbury Tennis Club
Fishing is a popular sport and has been mentioned before as being a great hobby for those with limited mobility. At Pittlands Lakes Angling Club, they have ensured accessibility and disabled toilets among their facility, so people of any ability are able to take part. People can visit the club before becoming members to see if it would suit their needs as well as to try their hand at a little angling.
Just because you are a wheelchair-user it doesn’t mean you can’t experience flying an aircraft and there are lots of clubs located across the UK.
Norfolk Gliding Club has a specially adapted glider allowing people with limited mobility to take to the air and fully experience all the joys that flying has to offer.
According to the Norfolk Gliding Club: “Through the support and funding from a number of organisations Norfolk Gliding Club has adapted a dual control training glider for use by those with no lower limb control. If you have sufficient arm movement and can drive a car, you can probably fly a glider!”
This article has taken you through the accessible sports that you can play and the accessible clubs that you can join in the UK, ranging from disability football leagues to wheelchair tennis clubs. If you suffer from a mobility issue and need aids to help you around your house, take a look at our different stair lift prices.
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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.