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Cork Independent


'It changed my life completely'

Wednesday, 3rd April, 2019 3:57pm

This Saturday marks a day with a difference at the Mardyke. The annual Cork SportsAbility Day, run by Cork Sports Partnership, takes place throughout the day, and is a showcase event for people with a disability or anyone interested in sport or physical activity.

The event is open for people of all abilities to come along to try a wide range of sports and physical activities and learn about inclusive clubs all in the one location.

One person who sings the praises of the day is Alan Dineen. Alan, who is from Togher, went to his first SportsAbility Day ten years ago and describes that experience as the day that changed his life.

“I went along and it was my first time trying a wheelchair sport, there wasn't really anything in Cork back then in terms of wheelchair sports, but a lot has changed in the ten years since,” he says.

Nowadays, after Alan got his first taste ten years ago, he is on the Irish wheelchair basketball team while he was one of the founding member of the Rebel Wheelers club, the Cork-based wheelchair basketball team which was the first of its kind in the county.

Alan, who has brittle bone disease, is also a coach to the under 23 Irish wheelchair basketball team.

“There was no wheelchair sport in Cork back then, there was athletics and that was about it and then the Irish Wheelchair Association got a sports development officer down in Cork, Jean Daly, so she set up the Rebel Wheelers as well, so she did a lot along with Niamh Costello in the Cork Sports Partnership. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be playing sport.”

After suffering 99 fractures in his lifetime as a result of brittle bone disease, it would be understandable if Alan shied away from playing sport regularly. In fact, he's done the opposite and is now immersed in the Irish wheelchair basketball scene.

“Brittle bone disease is a mutation in the collagen gene,” he explains, “so my bones aren't as dense as what a normal person's bones would be so they would break a lot easier. In terms of day to day life, it doesn't affect me that much, I don't leave it get on top of me but I just need to be more careful around things in case I fall, but other then that, day to day life is normal.

“I work in Aclaí Strength and Conditioning where I'm a strength and conditioning coach. I'm in my final year in Setanta College and started in Aclaí two years ago, through Rebel Wheelers because we were doing our strength and conditioning with them, so I was kept on as a coach. I love it – I'm definitely stronger since I started all the strength training.”

On Saturday, Cork SportsAbility Day will take place at the Mardyke Arena UCC from 11am-2pm. There will be an array of come and try sessions and activity demonstrations taking place on the day including archery, indoor rowing, powerchair football, wheelchair basketball and more.

“I'd push everyone with a disability to go there,” says Alan, “there's going to be something there for them. It changed my life completely and now I'm representing my sport at the highest level so just going that day made all the difference in my life.”

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