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Wheels hit the court for international tournament

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Wheels hit the court for international tournament Brooks Rehabilitation host ninth annual tournament JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Brooks Rehabilitation is hosting the ninth annual, "Southern Slam Quad Rugby Tournament" this weekend. The tournament was once called “murderball,” but now it’s more tamely known as “quad rugby.” Quad rugby is a team sport for athletes who have a disability. As of Friday, 12 teams from all over the world, including Switzerland are in Jacksonville for the event. Don Bergman has played for the “Brooks Bandits” for nine years. "When we first hosted the tournament it was an eight-team tournament, it grew to 10, now it's grown to 12, our ambition is to grow it to 16-team tournament," Bergman said. Bergman said the sport is becoming more popular each year. “During the last Olympics, the wheelchair rugby venue was sold out for every game,” Bergman said. “So now when we see these fans and supporters come out it really does help us believe that this sport is really growing." The tournament offers teams a unique opportunity to go up against people they’ve never met. Adrian Moser, a player from Switzerland traveled more than 4,000 miles to compete in the tournament. “Europe is such a small area, we play a lot against each other,” Moser said. “So we know each other pretty well so that's a big opportunity to play against teams with players that we don't know." Another Brooks Bandits player, Henry Sawyer is glad the games are local so his kids can come to cheer him on. "I have four kids, so it means a lot to me to have that support, that family support, around Jacksonville," Sawyer said. Sawyer says he hopes he will inspire others to get involved and get active. "You have a lot of people who don't know this sport exist who have the same injury, or criteria that we have, who are just at home doing nothing, thinking they can't go out and do anything else," Bergman said. If you want to go cheer on the Brooks Bandits, the tournament continues tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex.

February 9, 2016 — 2:11am