The inaugural Bayfair Festival of Disability Sport is set to make an impact at ASB Baypark Arena this weekend.
Organised by Parafed Bay of Plenty, the inaugural event has attracted more than 100 athletes with physical disabilities from around the country. They will compete in wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, boccia (similar to bowls and petanque) and blind bowls today
The aim of the festival is to attract more people with disabilities to get involved. Tomorrow the ACC Paralympics New Zealand Open Day offers people with disabilities, their families and supporters the opportunity to learn more about Para sport options available and meet PyeongChang 2018 and Rio 2016 Paralympians.
Gold and bronze medallist Adam Hall is looking forward to the opportunity to meet and share his success at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
"The Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang was an incredible experience and the team were overwhelmed by the support of the New Zealand public," he said.
"The ACC Paralympics New Zealand Open Day is a great opportunity to say thank you and to also give disabled people the opportunity to check out what Para sport opportunities are available in their community."
PyeongChang bronze medallist Corey Peters, Rio 2016 double bronze medallist William Stedman and Para-athlete Anna Steven will also attend.
Overall event ambassador Amanda Lowry said she hoped the festival would become the AIMS Games of disabled sport.
"Parafed's goal is to make this event a real fixture on the disabled sporting calendar not just nationally, but internationally. Given this is our first year, we have every intention to smash it out of the park and build on the event year-on-year," she said.
A highlight of today's sporting events will be the spectacular wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball matches.
John Sligo, who is competing in both demanding sports, said getting involved in disability sports meant everything to him.
"It is just normal when you are on the court. Everyone is the same in a wheelchair and everyone is on a level playing field having a lot of fun. That is the main thing."
Sligo said the festival was massive for the disability sporting community.
"I am looking forward to seeing all of these sports in the one venue because that is something that doesn't happen a lot. It gets all the disabled community together, not just sectors — that's the main thing for me.
"If we can drum up some awareness that we are doing this every week we might just get some more young people involved and help them get on pathways to Paralympics."
Parafed Bay of Plenty board member Neil Cudby, who coaches the Tauranga wheelchair rugby team the Steamrollers, is excited about the festival finally happening.
"It is something we have had in mind for a very long time. We have been working in the background with Parafed so now to be able to bring it out and showcase the work we have done for quite a few years is exciting," he said.
"We know there are over 30,000 people in the Bay of Plenty that have got some sort of disability and our membership sits at around 100. We know there are a lot more people who could be participating in sport and we all believe in what sport can do for people."
Bayfair Festival of Disability Sport
When: 10am — 3pm Saturday and Sunday
Where: ASB Baypark Arena, Mount Maunganui
Sports Codes: Wheelchair Rugby, Wheelchair Basketball, Blind Sport and Boccia