‘Sport changed my life; How sport is changing lives of disabled people
Hello! My name is Kai Gill I’m 21 years old and I’ve written this blog post to tell you how sport has changed my life.
There was always at some point in my childhood and teenage years that I was always either participating in sport, kicking a ball around or watching the sport. Little did I know from doing this it would change my life both in personality and perspective in life.
From the age of two to eleven I was always visiting hospitals and doctors for tests, scans to discover why I wasn’t doing what other children were doing. In PE lessons in School and also, sports days I use to struggle with running, I was always falling down and then trying to get back up to brush myself down and continue. On the weekend’s I was playing with friends from where I lived we used to ride bikes, kick a football around trying to be as normal as I could be without looking different to others. But, always in the back of my mind I knew whatever I was doing, I was never going to be as good as my peers who were able bodied but, as always the determined little me I always tried.
On the evenings of returning home from primary school, I attended a local Karate club once a week and did for around 4 years reaching the final belt before a black belt. But, after seeing a specialist who came from Leeds to try and discover what was wrong with my legs I was told to stop. I was absolutely devastated I made friends but, the point I was literally so close to gaining the highest belt within the sport I didn’t know what to do with myself.
The specialist who I saw came to discover what was the condition that was affecting my legs. I was told previously I had a mild form of Cerebral Palsy – just one of many conditions I was given but then told no it isn’t that. I remember through my transition from primary school to secondary I told the doctors I want to know what is wrong with me so that I can plan my future. A specialist came from Leeds to try to help find out what was wrong he told me to sit on the floor and then stand up (the most difficult thing I struggled with doing as a child). Just from those movements, he said it’s your muscles that are affected. So once again I had to see yet another consultant she sent me for a muscle biopsy after being told I had a form of Muscular Dystrophy. Two years later I was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2D. This is a muscle wasting condition affecting my hips and shoulders progressively weakening throughout years.
After a few months of arranging equipment that I would need at school, physiotherapy and at home. I discovered Table Tennis I started playing it in PE at secondary school with my TA whilst my other classmates were doing more physical sports such as rugby. I loved playing table tennis the fact I wasn’t seen as the weakling in a team or feeling like I caused the team to lose. I began to attend a Tuesday evening table tennis club called St Mary’s TTC. From the first training session with my coach Shane Bradley, I felt I was finally accepted. I represented the club in a local table tennis league. I wasn’t the best but I had a very good backhand. As the years went on my condition progressively got worse. I was falling more struggling with walking long distances plus many other daily activities even from getting up from a chair. The falling got worse as my shoulders weakened I was unable to stop myself from falling or protecting my face. I had to stop playing Table
Tennis at the age of 16. Four years playing a sport I enjoyed and was progressing with.
Once again it was back to the drawing board to find a sport to play. From being able to run around kicking a ball with my friends to then hitting a table tennis ball to at the time feeling hopeless. I remember watching sports on TV thinking wow I would love to do that then realising I can’t. I watched the London 2012 Paralympics and that was a huge inspiration for me because I realised I could do sports that my friends do but in a different way. The Paralympics in London didn’t just give me the push to try new sports but, it also played a big part in what I currently do throughout my life. Seeing the likes of Hannah Cockroft, David Weir, Sophie Wells MBE plus much more Great Britain Paralympians got me back into sport. I attended a powerchair football taster session in Hull. The first words were oh my gosh at seeing the sport, little did I know, this was the sport I finally fell in love with and wanted to make a difference to other disabled people. I’ve been playing powerchair football for now nearly four years, I play for East Riding Electric Eels in the MDUK Championship (National League) North East Regional League and I will always remember scoring my first goal. It brought back so many memories of as a child kicking a ball around.
As you have read sport has played a big part in my life and has developed me as a person and many other qualities. The sport I currently play takes a lot of traveling at least monthly I have to travel to Nottingham to compete with my teammates in the national league. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning isn’t fun for my family but I really do appreciate it the support they have given me. I’ve recently graduated from Hull School of Art & Design with an upper second class honors in Journalism & Digital Media. I’ve been fortunate to work at Hull Kingston Rovers and Hull FC throughout my degree. It is true that sport can change people lives, you meet friends that are always there for you. I currently continue to work for a disability sport & lifestyle magazine called Parahey. I set this magazine up throughout my degree. In Hull, we have so many talented disability sports athletes and clubs who are all fantastically support by a brilliant charity called Disability Sports Humber alongside businesses such as Hudgell Solicitors, St Stephens, East Yorkshire Shutters and much more.
Finally, I just want to say a quote I’ve always been brought up around no one can tell you that you can’t achieve the biggest dream that you, as one day you will. It’s always been my dream to represent my country in a sport I play and be a sports journalist. I will continue to chase that dream until I’ve achieved it.
You can follow Kai on Twitter: @kai_gill you can also visit Parahey Magazine website: www.paraheymagazine.com You can discover the club Kai plays for by visiting www.eastridingelectriceels.com