CHILDREN have mastered new skills competing in the country’s fastest growing rugby league sport.

Pupils at St Michael’s RC Primary School in Ditton have learnt how to play wheelchair tag rugby with the Widnes-based Mersey Storm team.

The school’s sports co-ordinator, Stuart Cooper said: “The children absolutely loved it. They now see the wheelchair as a piece of sports equipment rather than someone who has a disability.”

Year six pupils have spent the past six weeks racing around in specially adapted £1,000 sports wheelchairs.

With their legs strapped in, boys and girl learnt how to manoeuvre the chairs at speed and pass the ball with their hands.

Welsh national squad members Chris Dennett and George Hill have been coaching them.

Mr Cooper said: “It has brought quieter children who don’t normally excel in sport out of their shells.

“It is has given them all confidence and helped them to work together as a team.

“It has given them a completely different outlook on disability.”

Mersey Storm’s able-bodied and disabled members train at Bankfield School in Liverpool Road, Widnes, every Monday, from 5pm to 7pm, and on Saturdays, from 10am to 12 noon.

Anyone aged 11 can play.

Head coach Maurice Craig said: “We welcome anyone. Some of the kids really excelled. They were superb.

“They realise that the wheelchair is just a piece of sporting equipment like a ball or a bat.

“This is the fastest growing part of Rugby League. We will have two complete leagues next year covering the whole country.”

Any schools interested in wheelchair tag rugby can contact Maurice on 07811 338981.

 Head coach Maurice Craig, and Welsh national squad members Chris Dennett and George Hill with pupils Jack Joseph and Sophie Thomas