Written by Jim Roberts
Edited by Andrew Thomson
I had been encouraged to take up a sport after leaving rehab and I had been told I might have the right physical attributes to play wheelchair rugby. I had also seen the documentary ‘Murderball’ (an Oscar nominated documentary that focused on the USA players and their rivalry with Canada in 2004).
Because I had been a keen rugby player before my illness, wheelchair rugby seemed like an obvious fit, and to be honest I didn’t really even consider any other sports. I got my first taste of the sport with a team in South Wales, who were called ‘The Pirates’ but have since changed their name to Ospreys.
Initially, I was not even capable of completing a whole training session. I was absolutely exhausted and my shoulders felt terrible. This was my first exposure of just how much training Paralympic athletes have to endure. I have to admit, I was pretty naive before becoming involved with disability sport and probably thought turning up would probably be enough to get in to a team. I could not have been more wrong!
I returned to full time University in Coventry and this meant I could no longer train with the Ospreys. The East Midland Marauders were the team that welcomed me in and I started training with them every Friday.
Every club team I have been a part of have made me feel extremely welcome. From sourcing chairs, right down to giving me tips for everyday life to make things easier. I am sure I would be in a much worse situation if I was not involved in sport, my confidence of being in a chair and my general life skills have improved immensely as a direct result of my sporting involvement.
I remember my first tournament for the Marauders, in Medway Kent. The first game was against an Irish team called the Gaelic Warriors. Unfortunately, we lost the game and I think I played a grand total of about 5 minutes, but I was absolutely hooked.