A former American football linebacker is to take charge of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, in what those within the sport hope will be a year of Paralympic success. Jason Brisbane will become one of the few black people to hold a senior management role in UK sport when he takes up his position in July.
Brisbane will replace David Pond as chief executive. Pond has overseen substantial growth in the sport over the past decade, and an international team ranked fourth in the world with hopes of a medal in Tokyo later this summer, should the Paralympic Games go ahead.
“I am delighted and feel a sense of real pride to have been appointed the new CEO of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby,” Brisbane said. “The community involved in the sport has true dedication and passion and they believe the sport is much more than just a game.
“I am excited about the opportunity to meet clubs and players and continue to grow wheelchair rugby by driving participation, increasing awareness and supporting our elite team, with the ultimate goal of Paralympics medal success.”
Born in London, Brisbane had a decade-long career in American football, including a year on the books of the San Diego Chargers. More recently he was in charge of grassroots development for the NFL outside the US. His work building sporting communities made Brisbane an exciting candidate, according to GBWR chair, Ed Warner. “The wheelchair rugby community will truly benefit from his experience in high performance sport and the work he has done at community and grassroots level.”
The sport originally, and still occasionally, known as Murderball, claims 1,000 practitioners in the UK. Since London 2012 it has seen a substantial growth both in terms of the competitive landscape – going from a single league of seven teams, to three divisions and 30 teams – and in terms of funding with UK Sport having pledged £2.6m for the Paris 2024 cycle.