Newport’s Coral Williams will be hoping not to be left ‘knocking’ when she and her team fly the flag for Wales at the British Polio Fellowship National Indoor Games, being held at the Leicester Marriott Hotel between 22-24 March. Representing Wales at 5s and 3s, a skilled form of Dominoes, team organiser Coral will take her place in a 13 strong team which has grown considerably since the days when it comprised of just four players. All will compete with around 140 members of the British Polio Fellowship who have made it through to the finals in a range of sports and games from around the regions.
Having been unlucky enough to contract Polio at just 3 years of age, Coral has overcome the obstacles the condition has put in her way – and having been victorious at Dominoes in the past – she is hoping to do well again this year, although for Coral and her team this unique event is about far more than just winning the game – it’s winning the game of life and enjoying life to the full.
“While I have won in previous years, the National Indoor Games means so much more to me,” explained Coral. The Team from Wales is relatively small, but in the case of the National Indoor Games, it is the taking part and sharing the experience, much more than anything else that matters.” Anyone in Wales who may have been affected by the impact of Polio or PPS, either individually or indirectly through friends and family can call The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935.
Coral is a massive supporter of the British Polio Fellowship, having been involved with the charity for as long as she can remember. She is now the coordinator /organiser for the Wales region, as well as preparing for 5s and 3s with her dominoes partner Dave Hetherall, who lives in Yorkshire but represents Wales as the country of his birth.
“The national Indoor Games are absolutely vital, as they give everyone the opportunity to meet other people with Polio and PPS on a competitive yet friendly basis,” added Coral. “Without the Indoor Games, people would just have the AGM as an opportunity to meet up with people from around the country and this is too formal for some. So as an annual event that doubles up as a support network, it is second to none. …/cont
“I meet up with people from Scotland who have become friends and I absolutely love it, as we all do. I would encourage anyone thinking about it to come along. Even if you have never been before you will find a warm welcome and a fantastic place to make new lifelong friends as I have.”
Having qualified from their regional heats in one of the 9 regions of the country, comprising East Midlands; Scotland; Home Counties; North of England; North West; South of England; Wales; Western; and Yorkshire, participants compete for a range of medals. 10 individual games will be played: Kurling; Bowls; Darts (standing); Darts (sitting); Boccia; Draughts; Cribbage; Dominoes; 5s and 3s; and Scrabble, with medals up for grabs in all categories and competition extremely fierce.
Coral’s sport of 5s and 3s will be familiar to pub and club regulars up and down the country, requiring skill and luck to be successful, with the need to work tactically to score points. Calculating the dominoes left to play, while predicting what dominoes your partner has remaining judging by those they have already played is essential to ensure you don’t leave them ‘knocking’!
In attendance and lending his support to the participants at Leicester will be paralympian and London 2012 silver medal winner James Crisp, a keen ambassador for The British Polio Fellowship. Contracting Polio as a baby like Coral led to James eventually losing the use of his left leg. Having experienced this muscle wastage from such an early age James has always managed his lifestyle around his disability and hasn’t let it hold him back from achieving his dreams.
James Crisp said: “Contracting Polio was obviously a traumatic experience for my parents but one which I was luckily too young to really understand at the time. However, it has made me the person I am today and it’s the reason I am part of the British Paralympics Squad.
“I am a keen supporter of The British Polio Fellowship; working to raise money for the charity through my sponsors and supporters, in order to help others like me achieve their dreams and make the most of their abilities, not focus on their disabilities. The Indoor Games is a unique opportunity for those with Polio and PPS to come together for the weekend from all over the country, keep the Olympic and Paralympic spirit alive and try and fulfil their dreams of achievement.”
Ted Hill, Chief Executive of the British Polio Fellowship, said: “It must be remembered that many of our members who have made it through to the national finals were strong competitors in many sports when they were younger, many having represented their region and country in the original British Polio Games which included track and field and swimming.
“Polio and PPS combined with older age means that most of our members can no longer compete in the more athletic sports and games, so the Indoor Games was born as a way of ensuring our members still had a national forum in which to compete and socialise.”
Whilst the level of competition is still incredibly intense and people are clearly ‘playing to win’, equally as important to those with Polio and PPS is the opportunity to catch up with old friends, swop notes about latest treatments and share experiences found to help with day to day living.