TAMESIDE Markets employee and Mixed Ability rugby player Nathan Webb is a man on a mission. His declared intention is to see Mixed Ability sport become “massive in the North West”, and he’s already making his voice heard in the corridors of power.
Over the last year, Nathan, a 34-year-old cleansing operative, has worked hard to promote Mixed Ability which brings together people of all standards to play sports and learn from each other, giving everyone the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
His efforts have been recognised by Ashton-under-Lyne MP Angela Rayner – the deputy leader of the Labour Party – who has arranged for him to meet Andy Burnham next month when he will ask the Greater Manchester metro mayor to give his endorsement to the Mixed Ability movement.
Nathan, who comes from Droylsden and plays as a number-eight, got into Mixed Ability rugby in 2014. He captains Aldwinians’ Mixed Ability team, Winnies Warriors, and appeared in the 2015 and 2022 IMART World Cups.
Last year, however, Nathan widened his horizons to become an active proponent for Mixed Ability. In March, at an online North West social prescribing conference, he presented information about the project and how it opens opportunities for people in disadvantaged communities.
Later, when he gave Glossop RUFC’s first presentation about Mixed Ability rugby, one of Nathan’s former teachers was in the audience and that led to SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) children having weekly sessions at the club and the formation of Lancashire’s first junior Mixed Ability team.
Nathan also compiled and presented a PowerPoint performance to Active Lancashire and spoke to representatives of Lancashire Rugby who then secured a Sport England grant to support Mixed Ability training.
In addition, Nathan attended Bolton Rugby Club’s first mixed ability presentation (they now have a thriving team) and visited Bowdon Squash Club’s first taster event.
He took part in a meeting with Nasen (the National Association for Special Educational Needs) and the Whole School SEND organisations to consider how in-school Mixed Ability could be advanced from local to national level. Throughout 2023 he attended weekly inclusion classes with a group of trainers who have experience of disability and autism.
Writing to the Tameside Council, IMAS (International Mixed Ability Sport) director Mark Goodwin said: “Thank you for being so flexible and giving Nathan the opportunity to work with us. His work promoting inclusion and breaking down systemic barriers for people with disabilities is vitally important.”
Cllr Vimal Choksi, Tameside Council’s executive member for towns and communities, added: “I am delighted and proud that we have been able to help Nathan with his campaign. He has been a major success both on and off the field.