Wheelchair Rugby League isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s a game of strategy, contact and clashes louder than you will hear inside any sporting arena.
Wheelchair Rugby League is also the passion and purpose of Living My Way Member Joseph.
“Oh I love Wheelchair Rugby League. Everything about it. It’s pretty much my full-time job nowadays.”
While Joseph no longer plays the powerchair version of the sport, his goal in life is to develop the manual chair version of the sport into one of the leading disability sports in the country.
“It is volunteering, but everything I do is around that.”
Different to other Para-sports, Wheelchair Rugby League is said to be the most inclusive sport of all. Not solely a disability sport, everyone is welcome to compete, and better yet, women and men can play in the same team.
Joseph, who is also a two-time Australian Powerchair Hockey representative (2004 and 2010), says his motivation for putting all his energy into the sport is the potential impact it could have in the diversity and inclusion space.
“I guess, I’m sporty minded. It means so much to me, but I always wanted to do something through rugby league,” he said.
“Especially on the Eastern Seaboard in Australia, it’s got a very large following. So all these people (with disabilities) that thought they would never have that opportunity to play sport or to play rugby league, we’re giving that opportunity.
“There’s been some massive progress both here and internationally. Next year’s Rugby League World Cup in London is actually three events in one – men, women’s and wheelchair.”
Joseph’s efforts in developing the sport have been fueled by the work of Living My Way, which he says is instrumental in him staying involved in the sport he loves.
“I’ve been with Living My Way for two years now,” he said.
“All the support I get through Living My Way is aimed at keeping me involved in Wheelchair Rugby League because that’s where I need to be at the moment. I think what I love most about it is the people.
“I guess you can always find a service, but it’s really about the people at Living My Way. They make things easier than they normally are, and takes the pressure off us.”
Born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Joseph works with both the Support Coordination and the Occupational Therapy teams at Living My Way.
“Everyone there has the knowledge and understanding of what each of us is going through, and that we’re all here just trying to achieve something that can be a little difficult – whether it’s getting a new wheelchair or a modification,” Joseph said.
“To find someone who’s got a great attitude and willing to help isn’t easy to find, but luckily enough, Living My Way has got those people, which makes it a lot easier."
“Having Living My Way is like having someone that’s willing to run the extra mile just to get the right answer. The human side of it is special and that’s what makes Living My Way better than most.”