Hull FC Wheelchair player Martin Norris has reflected on the strides made by the Black & Whites so far in 2023 following a promising performance at Saturday’s Challenge Cup qualifying festival.
The Black & Whites won four of their six games in the competition, beating Super League opposition in the form of London, Warrington, Wigan, and current league champions Halifax, with hard-fought defeats to eventual finalists Leeds and Catalans seeing Hull finishing in a respectable third place.
It is the latest positive story for the side this season as they continue on their journey to becoming one of the forces in the sport alongside the likes of the Panthers and the Rhinos.
And former England World Cup winning captain Norris, who joined the club ahead of the latest campaign, believes he has seen first-hand benefits that the wheelchair game has gained thanks to an increase in media attention after the World Cup last year.
“Getting more eyes on the game is fantastic – I’ve been banging the drum for years but we’re now managing to hit new audiences.
“The support we receive from the club itself is also breaking new ground as something as simple as a match report or social media coverage hits so many supporters and potential new players.
“Wheelchair is seeing a massive boom at the moment on the back of the success of the World Cup and we’ve seen thirty new players join the club.”
Saturday’s Inclusion Festival at the University of Hull, also included the Wheelchair Trophy tournament, featuring some of the sport’s up and coming Wheelchair sides, including Hull FC’s own development side.”
On Hull FC’s 2023 squad, Norris stated: “I believe in the squad we have, and we have a great mixture of top quality players and up and coming players who are really keen to learn and are improving.
“We’ve integrated two players from the development team into the first-team already this season so we have players who started six months ago already going up against World Cup winners.”
He added: “I would love to see more feeder clubs in the local area – myself and a few of the guys have come from northern Lincolnshire so it would be great to see a club form over there which we could use to bring in players to make FC a stronger squad.”
Norris has had a major influence on the team both on and off the pitch since he joined the club, using his experiences in the game over the last 15 years to his advantage.
“I use my knowledge of the game to develop the squad and I’ve kind of started an unofficial assistant coaching role.
“We talk a lot in Rugby League about the one-percent improvements and we are improving by that every time we train or play a game together.
“As players, we do everything we can to spread the word of the games we have and the more we work as one club the more it will boost the promotion of the wheelchair game – I’d love to see the Allam Sports Arena packed out on a match day in the future as the support of the club really helps to boost the team.”