The IRF is proud to announce the formation of its inaugural Para Rafting Committee. News of the committee’s formation has been greeted very positively within the rafting community and the wider para sports communities. The first key steps for the Para Rafting Committee are to finalise the Athletes Classification Code and Classification system. These standardised and transparent rules and regulations will greatly assist organisers of Para Rafting events; and provide the framework for the future of the sport.
The IRF’s Para Rafting Committee brings together extensive experience, knowledge and governance from a wide variety of para sports, para paddle sports and rafting. The Para Rafting Committee is a truly global committee with members from across four continents and with extensive backgrounds in parasports. The IRF has sought to ensure that the governance on which the Para Rafting Committee can build the sport is reliable, transparent and inclusive.
Members of the IRF’s Para Rafting Committee:
Jezza Williams (NZ) has had 15 years of international river guiding experience at all levels. After a canyoning accident in 2010 left him a Tetraplegiache he opened Makingtrax adapting his knowledge and experience of the outdoor industry to build inclusive tourism and adaptive adventure. Over the last 8 years Makingtrax has been running river trips for all abilities and consulting training and adapting rafting operations in New Zealand, Nepal, Switzerland and Canada. He feels the IRF’s focus on Para Rafting will bring adaptive rafting to the forefront of the rafting industry, this in turn will empower rafting operators worldwide to broaden the inclusion of all travellers and adventurers. Therefore he believes forming this Para Rafting committee can change an industry. He is also an active wheelchair rugby player.
Saeed Zaroori (Iran) is a journalist, a translator of booklets for children with dystrophy, an inspirational lecturer with Severe Muscular Dystrophy and uses a power wheelchair. He is also a committee member of International Adventure Therapy, founder of Iranian Adventurers with Disabilities Team (IADT) (2011 to present), and plans adventurous tours for people with disabilities in Iran, such as: rafting, kayaking, paragliding, camping and passing through big deserts of Iran by safari. Creator of “Stick to Your Wheelchair” idea to promote accessibility by doing adventures while sitting in your wheelchair and he himself has scuba dived, ziplined, free dived and rock abseiled – all in his wheelchair.
Emma Wiggs (UK) is a British Paracanoe Athlete and former sitting volleyball player. She currently competes in the KL2 classification of paracanoe. She won gold at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in KL2, and is also a six-time world champion. As a volleyball player she was part of the Great Britain team that competed at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. All this experience will be very beneficial to the Para Rafting Committee.
Oleksandr Bakanychev (Ukraine) worked for Special Olympic Ukraine for 7 years as the Coordinator of the National Programs. At Ukrainian Sport University he is a lecturer (biomechanics, kinesiology and sporting metrology). He worked with disabled canoe sprint athletes as a coach. He was also engaged as an organizer in the ICF World and European Paracanoe Championships. His athletes have won European, World Championship and became medal winners at the Olympic Games.
Darko Mitrović (Serbia) is a Professor at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education of the University of Belgrade, is the coach of various rowing clubs and Vice President on the Board of Directors of a rowing club. He is the Coordinator for university rowing on the executive board of the Rowing Federation of Serbia and President of the Academic Sports Association.
Kelley Kalafatich (USA) began rafting as a pioneering female river guide in 1979 and has run hundreds of rivers around the world, including several first descents. She was Meryl Steep’s stunt double in The River Wild , and later produced and filmed Three Women, Three Hundred Miles (award-winning river documentary). She was a founding member of the legendary World Champion Amazonkies USA Women’s Raft Team, competing from 1985 -2001. Kelley became paralyzed from the waist down in 2007 after being infected by a waterborne parasite on the first descent of the Blue Nile River. She does motivational talks on facing one’s fears.
Jim Coffey (Canada) is the Founder, Owner and Director of Esprit, a Canadian based river operator that started in 1992 and runs trips in Canada, USA, Costa Rica and Mexico. Jim is a world renowned leader in Swiftwater Rescue Instruction and is also an IRF Guide Training & Education Assessor. He raced in the Canadian Men’s rafting team from 1995 to 1998. He is also a vocal social and environmental advocate and, more importantly, gives a voice for disenfranchised peoples as well as people with various challenges by taking them on the river, and formed the organisation Whitewater Healing to help with this.
Andrey Viktorovich Batalov (Russia) is the head of the pararafting committee of the Russian Rafting Federation. In 2014 he began developing adaptive alpine skiing and snowboarding, in 2016 he started with para rafting, 2017 it was adaptive hockey, and 2020 children’s sledge hockey. His 10 year old daughter has cerebral palsy. He is General Director of the ANO Center for Adaptive Physical Culture and Sports “Energy of Life” – a social organization that provides a range of sports, health and tourism services aimed at rehabilitation and adaptation to the normal social environment of children with disabilities and their families . First Russian Para Rafting Championship.
Para Rafting Committee Advisors:
Julie Gray (UK) is the British Canoeing representative on the ICF Paracanoe Committee and has also been very involved with the IDBF and their para work and classification categories and running events. She is Paracanoe Head of Classification and ICF Paracanoe Classification Committee Medical Classifier.
Next steps for the committee:
We look forward to the Para Rafting Committee’s launching of the IRF Para Rafting rules, codes and classification systems early in the new year. We will be sharing more news of these developments as they are agreed and published.
#AreYouReady #pararafting #raftersareawesome #strongertogether #weareirf