Wednesday, 27 June 2007

An example to us all

I stumbled across this story on the internet today - it's from last week's Daily Mail and no, it's not about asylum seekers or rogue muslim clerics, but is the story of a young lad who's been made captain of his local rugby team despite being virtually blind.

The boy's name is Sam Wishart, he's 11 years old and suffers from cone dystrophy which has resulted in photophobia and nystagmus, which means his eyes shake, he can see no colour and looking towards a light source reduces his vision further, hence the need for permanent dark glasses. Despite this he plays outside centre for Frome RFC under 11s and also captains the team.

"Most of my friends play rugby and I like the contact and getting stuck in," says Sam.

"I sometimes drop the ball and it can be hard seeing my team-mates if the kits are similar, so sometimes we wear bibs. A lot of the time we play in the morning when the sunshine is really low so it's hard for me to catch the ball but I've scored quite a lot of tries and it was great when my team-mates voted for me to be captain because I'd only just joined."

His time as captain has already been a success with the Under-11s, who were runners-up at the Hayle Mini Rugby tournament in Cornwall at Easter and, under his leadership, the team won the Melksham Cats rugby tournament in April.

Sam's coach Trish Withey says: "The sheer determination he shows on the rugby pitch goes to show that nothing gets in his way. He gives his all and has improved massively."

This is a fantastic, heart-warming story on two levels. Not only does it show how brave and determined this kid must be but also demonstrates how inclusive rugby is as a sport. It's a story that everyone associated with rugby should be proud of.

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