GB hockey team needs your help
TWO athletes fear their dreams to compete in next year's Winter Paralympic Games could be scuppered due to a lack of funding.
Matt Clarkson and Matt Woollias are part of Team GB's sledge hockey team, which is aiming to qualify for the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Russia.
To qualify the team must finish within the top three of the Pool B World Championships in Nagano, Japan, next month.
However, with each player needing to raise £2,500 to attend the tournament, Mr Clarkson, 27, of Thorngumbald, fears it might not happen.
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He said: "In order to attend the tournament and have a real shot at qualification, Team GB need to raise funds and obtain sponsorship.
"The lack of financial support certainly has an impacts and is a major block in the road to qualification.
"The players train on and off ice locally every week and then travel to Milton Keynes on a monthly basis for GB training.
"Players dedicate a lot of time and money to achieve their dream of representing GB in the Winter Paralympics.
"It would be devastating for us to miss out after all of this effort."
Sledge hockey is a variant of ice hockey, using sledges to allow the players to move about the rinks at high speeds.
The players sit in adapted sledges, propelling themselves with sticks.
Mr Woollias, 24, of Preston, started playing the game after he spent a year under treatment for bone cancer.
He was the Paralympic flame ambassador when it came to Beverley last year.
"The game is a team sport which I love," he said. "It is exciting and every game is different.
"The buzz of scoring a goal or taking a hit cannot be matched.
"I believe we have a good chance to make the Winter Paralympics with hard work and determination."
As part of their preparation for Japan, Team GB are heading to Estonia at the end of the month. The trip will be self-funded.
"To qualify Team GB must attend and finish within the top three of the Pool B World Championships," said Mr Clarkson, who plays for Hull team Kingston Kestrels.
"The top three teams will then compete in a play-off in November versus the bottom three of Pool A.
"With hard work, determination, passion and the required financial support, the team have a real chance in qualifying for the Winter Paralympics."
Mr Clarkson suffers from spina bifida, which affects the development of the spine and central nervous system. He has used crutches since the age of three.
He said: "Sledge hockey is a fast-paced, full-contact team sport.
"No other sports can come close to the level of entertainment and every shot and bone-crunching hit provides a real thrill to the sport.
"Nobody is left disadvantaged in any way either."
Any businesses wishing to sponsor the team can get in touch with Mr Clarkson by emailing matt.clarkson_5@ btinternet.com
Alternatively, email red. email@example.com for more information.