Wheelchair rugby league player Brad Grove’s Push the Limits campaign raises money for juniors

Brad Grove loves the physical aspect of wheelchair rugby league.

The sport has become a big part of his life since an accident in 2008 took away his ability to walk.

“I want to see other people in my situation that have gone through struggles and overcome them to do the same thing.”

An Australian Wheelaroo player at the 2013 and 2017 Wheelchair World Cups, Mr Grove launched the Push the Limits campaign last year.

The Camden man will push himself 1,000 kilometers to raise funds for youngsters with a disability who want to take part in the sport.

“I want to make sure the next generation of wheelchair rugby league players can enjoy the same experience I have and make a difference to their lifestyle,” he said.

Mr Grove’s Push Your Limits project aims to raise $ 10,000 in 12 months to fund junior competitions.(ABC Radio Sydney: Michael Luu)

‘Everyone can play it’

Mr Grove said what he enjoyed now about wheelchair rugby league was the opportunity to play with his able-bodied best friend.

The pair have represented Australia three times on the international stage.

“If you have a great companion, you can achieve much greater things and I am a perfect example of that,” Mr Grove said.

“Wheelchair rugby league has allowed us to participate at a level we never expected I would one day play at.

“For a lot of people with disabilities, they don’t want to be going through that alone and just those someone with them on that journey.”

Two men in wheelchairs on a basketball court
Mr Grove says wheelchair rugby league’s high contact nature surprises many newcomers.(ABC Radio Sydney: Michael Luu)

Wheelchair rugby league rules allow people of all genders, age groups and mobility levels to participate.

“For once in their lives, mum or even their brothers and sisters or friends can actually do something with them,” Mr Grove said.

For the past seven years, able-bodied Emily Becroft has enjoyed playing with and against her husband Liam Luff, who was born with a condition similar to cerebral palsy.

“Being able to say a play alongside my husband is definitely a very unique experience that not a lot of people would get in any sport,” Ms Becroft said.

“The drive home, which can last a few hours, can be a bit tense.”

Liam Luff and Emily Becroft's relationship has grown through the years of playing wheelchair in the Rugby League together.
Liam Luff and Emily Becroft’s relationship has grown up after years of playing wheelchair rugby league together.(ABC Radio Sydney: Michael Luu)

Barriers to participation

Daniel Frederic says teaming up with his two able-bodied brothers for the Bulldogs three years ago, was life changing.

“On weekends, I wouldn’t usually play my sport, so now every weekend, I wake up excited,” he said

“There’s something to look forward to.”

Daniel Frederic dreams of becoming a Wheelaroo one day.
Daniel Frederic dreams of becoming a Wheelaroo one day.(ABC Radio Sydney: Michael Luu)

However, the start to his wheelchair rugby league career was not easy.

Sport wheelchairs can cost thousands of dollars and his family could not afford one and had to crowd fund the purchase.

Coach Liam Luff said maintenance and repair costs could also be hefty.

“And with a game like this, which is pretty much full contact, the chairs do get damaged. The wheels break, so you need to keep replacing those sorts of things,” Mr Luff said.

Expensive court hires were another barrier.

“We do require at least two basketball sized courts, so that immediately doubles the expenses compared to a lot of other indoor sports,” Mr Luff said.

Pushing for juniors’ court time

Mr Grove was more than halfway to his fundraising goal via Push the Limits.

“So that’s roughly about 60 hours of court time for our juniors,” he said.

“It is not just about the much-needed funding but also raising awareness of the game among communities in Australia.”

Brad Grove says it will be a 'dream come true' to play wheelchair in the Rugby League at the Paralympics.
Having played at three world cup competitions, Mr Grove says it would be a “dream come true” to play wheelchair rugby league at the Paralympics.(ABC Radio Sydney: Michael Luu)

Since November last year, Mr Grove has pushed 280 kilometers, mainly in Greater Sydney due to pandemic restrictions.

His next goal was to take the quest beyond NSW in the lead-up to the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup in November.

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