Ash, one of the volunteers with The Jesters Wheelchair Rugby Team, has written about her experiences with the team, and the difference it has made to her.
I first came to Wheelchair Rugby with my friend Claudia, just to watch her play actually and then kept coming back because I could help her transfer between chairs.
It was meant to be just a few sessions because I’m in full time education. But, things changed very quickly because I got acquainted with the team and it was something that I looked forward to every week.
Then, The Harlequins Foundation came in and we then had consistent sessions and it was a positive team training environment which was really fun to be in.
Even though I can’t compete as a team member, I still come along week in and week out because I genuinely enjoy the team banter and sporting atmosphere. I’ve always been part of a team and my current commitments mean that I can’t have that. But I get that with The Jesters- team banter.
Colin and Harvey tag team, they come up with a new name for me each week, sometimes Luke joins in with his witty one liners, Amy is really cheeky as well and then there’s Claud, who really rips into every move I make; but I love all of it. That’s something I don’t get outside of wheelchair rugby anymore because of my schedule.
Wheelchair rugby as a sport is so cool because it offers a competitive buzz to people who might not otherwise get the opportunity. Diagnoses and disabilities may be different between people, but it’s a safe environment for the players to be themselves and as a volunteer I think it’s so important to facilitate this environment and make the players feel safe.
It’s a rare space where they can just be themselves and not have to worry about being treated differently because everybody just wants to be normal.
Most of our players are wheelchair bound with limited or no lower limb mobility, but they are all more than capable to do things themselves.
My responsibility as a volunteer is to be aware of this fact and let them be independent and know that some people just do things differently because that’s how they find it easiest.
It’s been a real education, but I’ve had so much fun along the way. My biggest hope for the team is to watch them compete. I know how competitive it gets and I think it’ll be really cool to watch them compete for real.