People with complex disabilities will be able to meaningfully play snooker, rounders and badminton for the first time ever, thanks to a charity “reinventing” the traditional sports.

Sense, a national disability charity, has created three new versions of sports, sensory snooker, sensory rounders and sensory badminton, after consulting with disabled people they support on the activities they most wanted to play but were unable to take part in.

Working closely with the sports’ three governing bodies, the charity which supports people with complex disabilities, created simpler versions of each game. Sense first identified the key skills required for the traditional sport, then designed activities to help people achieve the same goals in a more accessible way.

Ideas were honed over an intensive six-month period, including recreating a snooker table on the floor with a felt mat or potting the balls by hand; throwing objects overarm and underarm to mirror badminton shots; using a small bat to hit a ball balanced on a stand in rounders. Each sensory sport can be adjusted to suit the skills and abilities of individual players, to help everyone to get involved.

Sense has announced that it will invest £60,000 over the next three years to launch sessions for hundreds of disabled people across England, alongside Badminton England, Rounders England, and The World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association, with the first groups swinging into action this April.

It is hoped the three new sensory sports will appeal to a broad range of players, encouraging them to enjoy being active and socialising.

The groundbreaking scheme is being funded by a £2.2 million grant that Sense was awarded by Sport England in April 2023 to tackle “inactivity” among people with complex disabilities. The aim is to encourage 5,000 more people into sport by 2027.

Alissa Ayling, Head of Sense Active, said: “The three all-new sensory sports we’ve developed offer a nice range of activities for players to choose from. Badminton is a more traditional sport, snooker is a sociable activity that can typically be more difficult for people with complex disabilities to understand and play, while rounders can be combined with a picnic on a fun day out.

“We hope the new versions of these sports will encourage hundreds more people with complex disabilities to become more physically active and less lonely. At Sense, we want to ensure that everyone has the chance to engage meaningfully in any sport – and this is a huge leap in that direction.”

Nine wheelchairs were donated to Ipswich Town FC Foundation for supporters to use on match days last year as a part of a community equipment supplier’s initiative to help make sports more inclusive.

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