Parafed committee to investigate winding up

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A sporting body formed more than 40 years ago to support athletes with physical disabilities in North Otago may fold as soon as next week.

Parafed North Otago holds its annual meeting at Community House on Thursday, where its committee members will discuss dissolving the organisation.

Originally known as the North Otago Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Association, the North Otago branch of Parafed was established in 1972 and at its peak had more than 30 active members.

Its core role is to coach and support athletes with disabilities, but it has struggled over the years to attract athletes and committee members to join its ranks.

At present, there are no athletes and only five committee members are actively involved.

Committee member and former athlete Trevor James, who lost his left leg in an accident in 1971, said the incorporated society would be forced to fold if support was not found.

“We used to have quite a strong group of competitors. We do have some disabled athletes here, but for one reason or another they are not part of the group.

“It’s left to us oldies to try and keep it going .. but not very well.

“So, we have been looking seriously at [folding] with our lawyer.”

The situation had become so dire the group had not been actively involved with any athletes in an official capacity since the mid 2000s, but had financially supported others, including cyclist Hamish McCallum, who has represented New Zealand at elite level.

That had been done through proceeds earned when Parafed sold its building, now the Blind Foundation Hall, in Steward St.

The group also had to decide what to do with the funds that remained in its coffers, Mr James said.

While upset the group may cease, Mr James was realistic about its future.

“It’s been a long, hard process.”