Player fundraises for ‘Barbarians’ team

Darren Jackson, far right, pictured with the Ulster Barbarians team.
Darren Jackson, far right, pictured with the Ulster Barbarians team.

An Inishowen wheelchair rugby player is aiming to raise vital funds for his team and he’s hoping the people of Donegal can help.

Darren Jackson, from Urris, is the only person from this area to play for the ‘Ulster Barbarians,’ the only wheelchair rugby team in all of Northern Ireland.

There are only four teams on the island of Ireland overall, including the Gaelic Warriors, the Laois Lions and Munster Wheelchair Rugby Club in Cork.

While the Ulster Barbarians are relatively new, having been set up in April 2013, they have enjoyed great success so far.

Darren told the ‘Journal’ how the team is now undertaking fundraising in order to ensure they continue to do so.

He said: “We are trying to raise money as the rugby chairs are quite expensive to buy, around £3,500 each.

“We have to get tyres and tubes on a regular basis, and basic maintenance to keep them in good working order,” he added.

The team is also hoping to join a league in England next year, which would involve travelling over three weekends over the year.

They also travel to Germany once a year for a competition called ‘Bernd Best,’ which Darren explained is “expensive.”

While Darren is the only local person to play for the team, another Inishowen man, Damien Doherty is a volunteer, helping players get into rugby chairs and acting as a referee during the games.

A number of fundraisers have now been organised to help the team raise the money they need.

They have been challenged to a game of wheelchair rugby by some professional rugby players - Paddy Wallace, Andrew Park andSteven Watson - a presenters from the BBC and disability needs staff, which will take place in the Antrim Forum tomorrow (Saturday), September 5th from 10.00 am until 2.00 pm.

Darren’s involvement in the regularly weekly training sessions and games involves a four-hour round trip.

He said he undertakes this as there aren’t many sports locally which suit him.

He said: “There is basketball but I don’t have full hand function so I’m at a disadvantage.”

The team will be in the Foyle Arena in Derry on Saturday, October 3rd for a ‘Come and Try Day’ if anyone wants to have a look or try wheelchair rugby for themselves.

If anyone would like to get involved with the club or give a donation, you can contact Bernard Rooney at ubrooney@yahoo.co.uk or 00447770777265.

You can also contact Darren at darrenjackson26@hotmail.com or telephone 00353872620871.

The Ulster Barbarians are affiliated with the Irish Wheelchair Association, Disability Sports NI and Irish Wheelchair Rugby. You can also find out more about the team by visiting Ulster Barbarians on facebook or www.ulsterbarbarians.com