Disabled cricket umpire's wheelchair campaign gets parliamentary backing from Telford MP

A campaign spearheaded by a Shropshire cricket umpire to help improve access to sports for officials with mobility difficulties has been raised in Parliament.

Cricket Umpire John McIntear
Cricket Umpire John McIntear

John McIntear uses a powered wheelchair to officiate at matches and is behind the Sports Officiating from a Powered Wheelchair (SOPW) initiative.

His efforts were spoken of in a Department for Culture, Media and Sport debate by Telford MP Lucy Allan, who praised his commitment to the campaign despite suffering from cancer.

Ms Allan told the Westminster Hall debate: "Inclusivity in sport is of course something we all believe in and we all want to promote. Great strides have been made in Paralympic sport, the amazing Invictus Games, disability cricket and I absolutely have to pay tribute to the English Cricket Board for their amazing work in allowing people with disabilities to pay cricket. The work they do is inspiring. We have a whole range of thriving disabilities sports enabling access and participation.

"But what about officials who have disabilities? What about officials who are wheelchair users? And I am sad to say that this is an area that has been overlooked. It's seen as a barrier too far, a hurdle too high. So what do you do as a young person born with cerebral palsy and your dream is to be a football referee?

"What do you do if you are cricket umpire and you develop a condition that means you have to use a wheelchair?

Extraordinary

"Should you just give up on your passion and allow your disability to stand in your way?

She told the committee of the "extraordinary campaign" of Mr McIntear who has been championing access for people with disabilities to officiate in sport.

"Now John is an inspiring person. His passion is cricket. John is a qualified cricket umpire. He is an ex-serviceman and he uses a wheelchair.

"John has a life-limiting condition and the prognosis I'm sad to say is not good. John was determined that his condition would not prevent him from continuing to umpire cricket. So he embarked on an inspiring campaign, SOPW.

"It was a campaign which captured the imagination of cricket lovers across Shropshire."

Responding to her comments Mr McIntear, 62, said: "I am absolutely over the moon that Lucy has highlighted the issue. This means more people will be aware of it. The project is to encourage national charities and organisations to be to move forward with it.

"I would like to encourage more people to become officials and to leave a legacy. It's not about me."

Since the start of the cricket season Mr McIntear has officiated at numerous matches in the Shropshire league.

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