Shropshire cricket umpire John McIntear is launching a campaign to encourage more disabled officials to be involved in their favourite sports.
John, a member of Shropshire County Cricket Club’s committee and responsible for the registration of players, was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer in 2018, preventing him from standing for long periods.
But such was John’s determination to remain involved with cricket, he raised funds last year for a powered wheelchair to help him carry out his duties as an umpire at grounds around the county.
John successfully raised the money required through an online collection and support from the Royal British Legion for a bespoke powered chair and van to enable him to continue umpiring.
Now, as he looks to help others with mobility needs to follow their own sporting passions, he is setting up Sports Officiating from a Powered Wheelchair (SOPW) and plans to officially launch the project within the next month.
John’s campaign will aim to encourage national charities and organisations to fund powered wheelchairs for disabled people wishing to officiate in any sport.
The campaign has already been highlighted in a Parliamentary debate.
Telford MP Lucy Allan tabled the debate in Westminster Hall following discussions with John, with last week’s debate responded to by the Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston MP.
John said: “I’ve proved you can go out and umpire a cricket match, but I’ve made the observation that in a lot of sports there are no mobility impaired sports officials going out to officiate.
“I thought if I can go in the middle and do my cricket umpiring, why can’t other people be able to officiate in their own sports even though they may be mobility impaired?
“This project is not about me. I’m just the facilitator. I’m going out and doing my umpiring, which I thoroughly enjoy, but the idea behind setting up Sports Officiating from a Powered Wheelchair is to help and inspire other people.
“There are many people who love sport but cannot get involved in sport, including officiating, because of their mobility.”
John, from Madeley, now wants that to change.
He added: “Just because I am terminally ill with lung cancer has not stopped me from being in the middle again.
“The inspiration to see other individuals, who are impaired because of a physical issue, has inspired me to leave a legacy for others to officiate in their own chosen sport.”
John, who is also is a committee member and Disability Officer for the Shropshire Association of Cricket Officials, said he appreciates the continued support he receives from Shropshire’s cricket community, including his colleagues at Shropshire CCC.
Pictured: John McIntear is launching Sports Officiating from a Powered Wheelchair.