The Eight Day Game’s new disability section has filled seven of its eight available spots for the inaugural contest, to the delight of organisers.
2017 will be the first in the games’ 41-year history to have a category for people with disabilities, and Lyne said he was hoping they would see more participants in coming years as the section grows.
“The support we’ve had has blown us away,” he said.
“We were hopeful we’d be able to get people involved but it’s been really good.”
He also said the six places open could be extended if there was more interest.
“We’re comfortable we’ll take everyone who wants to be a part [of the disability section],” he said.
“I’ve spoken to three or four people who want to take part but haven’t signed up yet, I’m confident they will closer to the event.”
Prue McCarthy, who works at Live Better was one of the instigators of the disability section, approaching the games’ organising committee with the idea.
“Over the years I’ve seen all my friends, who are able bodied, all having a good time and meeting new people, and it’s been a bit isolating because of my disability,” she said.
She said she approached NSW Office of Sport development officer Darrin Yates to help her pitch the idea to the games committee.
Yates, who works with with disability sports and also helps organisations modify games for participants with disabilities, loved the idea.
“He said it was a fantastic idea, so we approached the committee and managed to get them onboard,” McCarthy said.
She said she wasn’t expecting such a large turnout for the first year.
“I think it will be low, but it will grow as we get the word out,” she said.
“People with disabilities may be a bit scared because it’s the first year and some people might be hesitant,” she said.
“Because people with disabilities have never taken part, there may be some people who might not know the games exist,” she said.
“We really appreciate the eight day games including the competition and giving us a chance, and I hope it continues on to include people.”
The games will work with participants to manage which events would need modification or extra equipment, and then which events people can and can’t take part in.
“We’ve got an idea of how we can make some events more disability friendly, but for example I picked out some games I knew I could physically do myself,” McCarthy said.
Darrin Yates said the strategy would be “looking at individuals” and working with them to help compete rather than a broad overhaul.
“It’s great of the eight day games to be proactive, show leadership and really be flexible,” he said.
“They’ve had a really great attitude.”
President Lyne said it had been a “learning curve”
“It’s all about inclusion.”