Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Experience of playing Quad (Quadriplegic) Rugby

I can be best described as a couch potato – someone who is always sitting down, lazy and looking at others to help me with smallest of tasks like getting a glass of water. I got to know of Quad Rugby being played at ISIC (Indian Spinal Injuries Centre), and just out of curiosity I went to meet the lady who had got it to India. Being a business woman the thought – lets see how this person can benefit my work was the main driving force to meet her.

I met this petite middle aged American lady, Vikky who is on a mission of reaching out to SCI Quads in India through sports. She is on this mission along with her son Jon, who met with a spinal injury in Mussoorie. She can across to me as a very grounded and a simple person and while I was wondering how she plans to achieve her aim in India without any major pulls and connections, she showed me an amateur film of quads playing Rugby at ISIC. It was an interesting film with some familiar faces. It seemed like fun.

She asked me to join the team and told me that they had practice on Mondays and Thursdays, but some where I was hoping she would tell me that I was overage to be a part of the sport. I thought it may be a good idea to come once or twice and witness the game especially because it may help be reconnect with old colleagues at ISIC where I have worked for six years. So with that thought I retuned from meeting Vikky on Saturday.

Along came Monday. The couch potato in me was really thrilled that another meeting cropped up at 3:30 pm, just one hour before Rugby practice. The meeting got over at 5:00pm. I was happy to say that I shall go for Rugby practice on Thursday now. But it wasn’t going to be so easy this time. Vikas who was accompanying me for the meeting hijacked me and drove me straight to ISIC and had me out of the car and in the Rugby practice within 15 minutes.

I took solace in the fact that today I need not play since I was 45 minutes late. Coach Rajeev too asked me to be a spectator. I was happy, but happiness was really short lived. Along cane Vikky excited to see me there. Within seconds she had me transferred on to a special chair, with gloves and all sort of safety straps. I was dressed and ready for the practice. The first realization was, that I need to wheel myself, while I am used to and happy being pushed around. Reluctantly I wheeled and joined the practice.

As I played I found myself enjoying it. What excited me was that most players were as bad as me being quads themselves. There was no judging or competition to prove that you were great at it. After practice we divided ourselves in two groups to play a game.

The game was real fun because one of the main tactics was to block the other player by jamming his wheelchair with yours. It was a bit like bumper cars and a hefty person like me proved to be good at it. What is more is that I managed to make a goal too. What was best was being a part of a team where the weakest player was also as important. The beauty of the game is that it is tailor made for quads who may not be able to participate in too may games.

To sum up the whole experience I am so glad that I joined the Rugby practice. Personally for me the experience was like finding a dress that fitted me just fine which is one of the most difficult task for an overweight person like me. Now Momndays and Thurdays are days I look forawrd to.

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