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Sky Originals Goes Behind-The-Scenes W/ Aotearoa’s Wheel Blacks For Documentary Series Wheel Blacks: Bodies On The Line

Published: Thu 11 Jul 2024 09:30 AM
Wheel Blacks: Bodies on the Line Sky Open Sky Sports Neon August 2024. Photo/Supplied.
Sky Originals NZ presents Wheel Blacks: Bodies on the Line, a three-part documentary series following New Zealand’s wheelchair rugby team the Wheel Blacks as they battle to rise above declining resources for a chance to qualify for the 2024 Paris Paralympics. Directed by Sweet Production’s Robyn Paterson (Down for Love), and made with the support of NZ On Air, the series will premiere on Sky Open on Sunday, 18 August at 8.30pm, before airing on Sky Sport 1 on Monday, 19 August at 8.30pm, with all episodes available on Neon from 19 August.
Wheel Blacks: Bodies on the Line goes behind the scenes to get to know the players as well as the thrill and tension of tournaments. The series lifts the lid on a dramatic, hard-hitting, and compelling sport played only by athletes who have all four limbs affected by a disability and captures the highs and lows of life as a Wheel Black, both on and off the court. It’s a world Producer and Editor – and former Wheel Black – Jai Waite knows personally. Waite was part of the winning Wheel Blacks team that took home gold at the 2004 Athens Paralympics 20 years ago.
In a world where the top-level international teams have high performance budgets in the millions, the Wheel Blacks have it tough, relying on fundraising, charity, and volunteers. Lack of resource is seeing player numbers dwindle locally – not only are the team fighting for a place at the Paralympics, but also for the future of a sport that has transformed their lives and is a source of inspiration for many. Can the kiwi underdogs rise again and is there a future for wheelchair rugby in Aotearoa?
Co-producer and Director, Robyn Paterson says, “Wheelchair rugby is an exciting sport, and we were driven by the motivation to see the Wheel Blacks get the recognition they deserve in Aotearoa. I’ve
known Jai for many years prior to us starting Sweet Productions together, and I’ve grown to love the sport through him and other players over this time. With Jai's personal insights, it makes absolute sense that this is Sweet’s first production.”
Co-producer and Editor, Jai Waite says, “Wheelchair rugby and the Wheel Blacks is a taonga I carry within me that was pivotal in my own journey from accident, through acceptance, to thriving in life with a disability. This year we celebrate 20 years from the peak of the sport with Gold at the Athens
Paralympics - it’s important to me that we shine a light on the game here in New Zealand and encourage more players to come through.”
Sky Originals NZ Senior Commissioner Nick Ward says, “Beautifully produced by disability-led Sweet Productions, Wheel Blacks: Bodies on the Line continues Sky Originals NZ’s mission to authentically tell local stories that inspire and entertain.”
Wheel Blacks: Bodies on the Line premieres on Sky Open on 18 August, 8.30pm, before airing on Sky Sport 1 on 19 August, 8.30pm (episodes airing weekly). All episodes will be available on Neon from 19 August. Made with support from NZ On Air.

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