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Sledge hockey: The crash bang of wheelchair rugby, with ice
Two players tussle for the puck. Taken by On Edition Photography

listen to ‘Winter Paralympics:If you like wheelchair rugby, you'll like sledge hockey’ on Audioboo

What is sledge hockey? And why should we be rooting for Team GB to qualify for the 2014 Winter Paralympics?

"It's the disabled version of ice hockey," says GB sledge hockey goalie Rob Gaze. "Most of the rules are the same, except obviously most of us can't move our legs."

He started playing the rough and ready disability sport after a spinal injury eight years ago. Click the above play button and you can hear in his voice how much he loves it. Gaze was speaking on the Ouch! talk show for April.

The goalie says: "We sit in a little chair, which is strapped to a frame, which has skates on the bottom. And we use two sticks rather than one. They're about a quarter of the length of normal hockey sticks but have the same shooting head on. They have [ice] picks on the bottom so we can push around the ice."

Gaze plays wheelchair basketball too but earlier, in a poetic moment off air, he told us: "There's something about being on that ice. It's cold but it's hot ... there's the mental game of psyching out opponents like in wheelchair basketball, but it's also very physical.

"[It's] one of the best sports in the world."

Comparisons are made between sledge hockey and wheelchair rugby. People were shocked and delighted during the London Paralympics on the hitherto unlikely sight of disabled people being turfed out of their chairs onto the court. Sledge hockey is similar because of the speed, the contact and the number of injuries received during play.

"You can't start fights otherwise you're going to get sent to the sin bin and you can't punch people," says Gaze. "But there's nothing wrong with you going in with your shoulder into somebody and knocking them flat off their sled.

"If they've got the puck, rather than going for the puck, you try to take the man away."


Sledge hockey team in action. Taken by On Edition Photography


The GB sledge hockey team describe themselves as "underdogs". According to Gaze, this is a status they like. They surprised everyone recently by winning bronze at the world championships in Japan and it has earned them a place at the final tournament later this year. Winning a bronze there will mean they qualify for the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.

So, will they make it? Gaze says: "I'm a bit nervous but yeah we can do it. We push ourselves harder every time we go out, and people have started taking notice. So there's not much more you could want."

Rob Gaze was interviewed on the April episode of the BBC Ouch! talk show.

You can follow Ouch! on Twitter and on Facebook.


Publ.Date : Wed, 10 Apr 2013 08:49:36 +0000

Is it hard to work out which class you belong to if you\'re disabled?
A couple drinking champagne with a Rolls Royce in shot.

The BBC has published the results of a survey on the nation's class. Its basis is that the old class system - lower, middle and upper - is no longer relevant.

Previously class was strictly determined by occupation, wealth and education, but this new method suggests it's more relevant to categorise people by economic, social and "cultural capital" indicators.

Particularly relevant to the disability experience is that you may be a different kind of person to what your income, education, occupation or housing suggests.

You could be unemployed, you may consider yourself unemployable, but you may have a masters degree, enjoy opera and hang out with CEOs and surgeons. if that's you, then what defines your class?

Disability campaigner Kaliya Franklin tweeted earlier that she is not sure what class she belongs to. She says she is: "Middle class by upbringing & education but underclass due to benefit receipt?".

After taking the new class calculator test on the BBC website, Spoonydoc Tweeted that she ended up in the lowest class grouping: "I was precariat. Test very skewed by being housebound. Changed to emergent service worker otherwise."

What is class anyway?

Well, it's all about your essence and standing, your station in life, your status, your regardability, your power. It gives clues as to what kind of consumer you are, what your politics might be, and all sorts of other unsumuppable traits. If you can be pigeonholed, you can be broadly understood as a person or householder, and targeted accordingly by those who need to know: advertisers, political canvassers, statisticians, town planners, who knows what.

Many disabled people take a non-standard route through life. It's recognised that opportunities in education or employment are harder to achieve due to physical accessibility or barriers that are attitudinal. Disabled people are likely to have less money as a result of having fewer opportunities.

If you don't generate your own economic capital due to not having a regular job, the influences around you are perhaps more important in turning you into the person you are. This survey recognises that and it calculates your "cultural capital" i.e. what TV, newspapers, arts and events you are a consumer of.

Could you, or should you, be summed up by what you like? Rather than what you're like? Should we define disabled people by what's going on in their head rather than their bank balance? And is that power?

There are, of course, plenty of disabled people for whom disability has been no barrier to socio economic progress ... but it's not clear quite how many that is.

What class are you and why? What can you add to this discussion? Leave a comment or contact us via Twitter and on Facebook.


Publ.Date : Wed, 03 Apr 2013 14:14:34 +0000


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