Raw Strength does the heavy lifting for athletes living with disability

WHEN Raw Strength Tasmania club president Matthew McKay first started powerlifting, he was simply trying to recover from a soccer injury.

Little did he realise that one small step for himself would become one giant leap forward for disabled sports in Tasmania.

Up until now, Raw Strength has only been able to help a small number of athletes, as the club did not have the specialist equipment required to train more severely disabled athletes.

But thanks to a $7,200 grant from the Holden Home Ground Advantage program, Mr McKay has not only been able to buy the equipment he requires, but had also been able to secure a larger space in Rosny.

Mr McKay started out running his local YMCA’s Sports Inclusion activities and was involved in establishing a wheelchair AFL team.

From there, he made the decision to start his own facility.

“When I started out, there were no powerlifting coaches in Tasmania, so I made the decision to do the course myself in Melbourne,” Mr McKay said.

“While there, I got talking to the chief executive offcier of Powerlifting Australia, the national federation for the sport.

“He told me that they wanted to expand into Tasmania and would show me the ropes and help me build a team.”

Mr McKay created Raw Strength, a powerlifting gym in Rokeby built on the foundation of support, safety and above all, zero judgement.

The club’s main clientele is older women and people with a disability.

Now in its third year, Raw Strength has helped many people discover a passion for strength training and to compete in powerlifting events across Tasmania and Australia.

“Since 2015, we’ve run six events in Tasmania including the Australian Masters Games in Ulverstone and the Move Strong event earlier this year in Devonport,” Mr McKay said.

“Around 70 per cent of our athletes are females over 40, many who had never played sports or been to a gym before.”

Motors Holden principal dealer Campbell York said the Holden Home Ground Advantage program was an important aspect in helping grassroots clubs like Raw Strength grow in the local community.

“At Holden, we love turning dreams into possibilities and are thrilled to play a part in increasing inclusion and accessibility for members of Tasmania’s disabled community,” he said.

Since the program started in 2014, Holden has helped more than 120 clubs across 22 sporting codes improve facilities, purchase new equipment and develop exceptional talent.

“We’re passionate about sport and how it brings communities together,” Mr York said.

“While we’re proud of what has been achieved so far, we also hope Raw Strength’s success inspires other grassroots clubs to apply for grants so we can help bring their dreams to life as well.”

For any clubs wanting to apply for a Holden Home Ground Advantage grant, visit www.holden.com.au/homegroundadvantage.

Caption: Motors Holden senior sales consultant Troy Wood, left, presents Raw Strength president Matt Mckay with the $7,200 cheque.