When the wheelchair rugby competitors face off at the Invictus Games, the sport seems fast, action packed and somehow effortless. The entire co-ordination demonstrated by the competitors seems playfully easy. It is not until non-wheelchair users try this sport that they realise what a big challenge this is.
How strenuous! My attempt at wheelchair rugby only lasted a good five minutes. In the Invictus Village, you can try this and many other sports in the Games programme. The strain on my muscles caused my legs to shake when I climbed out of the wheelchair, even though I am not that unfit. I could feel the muscles in my arms when I pushed the wheelchair. And like many people new to wheelchair rugby, I did not cut a particularly impressive figure in other respects.
The match in which I participated together with a number of pupils from the Bettine von Arnim comprehensive school in Langenfeld did not in any way resemble the fast-paced and action-packed wheelchair rugby played by the competitors participating in the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing. Our passes were usually too high or too low. Because we were so intent on pushing the wheelchair, we missed the balls or forgot to dribble the ball after ten seconds as required by the rules. “It is a real challenge being in the wheelchair while at the same time having to adhere to the rules,” Moritz agreed. But everyone had much fun.
In the Invictus Village, it is possible to try several sports that are part of the Invictus Games programme. Wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball as well as table tennis – with and without the use of a wheelchair – and archery. The pupils from the Bettine von Arnim comprehensive school – Grades 6 -13 are visiting the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf for one day and taking advantage of the opportunity to try new sports.
“That’s amazing,“ said Moritz. The 16-year-old first played table tennis while standing and then switched to using a wheelchair. “It is difficult to co-ordinate the strokes from a wheelchair,“ he explained. “Good that we can try out wheelchair table tennis. Because it lets us experience how difficult it is to sit in a wheelchair“
“Unbelievably strenuous,” 15-year-old Carla said about the match. And her friend Donita stated that you somehow don’t feel free when in a wheelchair. “It felt as if I did not have any reflexes.”
A large crowd had gathered for the archery competition. Bernard, the Canadian team’s Co-Captain, is standing in the queue with all his family He has already participated in the 400 and 1500 metre run. He will also participate in wheelchair basketball and cycling competitions. He has been in Düsseldorf since 7 September.
“Düsseldorf’s historic centre is simply beautiful, the people here are wonderful and we would like to thank everyone for the terrific welcome,“ said his wife, Manon. The couple’s four children – Naomi, 12, Adam, 11, William 10, and Alicia 8 have already found friends among German children. Like their Dad, both boys play wheelchair basketball in Canada.
“Archery is a new sport for us and one that we would like to try,” said Bernard, who is pleased that he can enjoy such wonderful experiences together with his family.
Author: Monika Hartjes
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