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#humanswithrahmah series: Wheel you play?

Salaam friends of learnislam!

Recently we managed to have a short conversation with an NTU undergrad in Sports Science & Management, Muhd Saufy Abdul Karim, 24, about how sports can also spread rahmah and bring people together – regardless of age, gender or even physical mobility. After being introduced to Wheelchair Basketball last year, Saufy is now an advocate of the much less known sport. Below is a short interview I had with him:

Hi Assalaamu’alaikum Saufy, firstly tell us more about yourself.

Waalaikumsalam .  I just completed my third year of studies in NTU. As an individual, I just love and look forward to new experiences, be it food, travel, activities and meeting people. There are alot of things to be explored and adventures to live for and if the opportunity arises I would be the first to say yes 🙂

 

Why Sports Science & Management?

I chose SSM because I’ve always been into sports since I was young and I love activities that give me adrenaline rushes. My parents are definitely a huge influence – especially my dad. He is a huge sports fan and I definitely became one because of him. Even my mum learnt a thing or two about soccer as a result! I may not be the most fittest/strongest/gifted person but sports has always given me that excitement I just enjoy. I can let my problems and stress go away whenever I play. So thats why I chose SSM for my undergrad studies. I feel that I will never get bored about what I’ll be learning and thats really important to me. To be able to excel, you have to love what you’re doing and as I’m coming to an end of my studies, there hasn’t been any regrets so far.

 

We heard that you play wheelchair basketball! Tell us more how you came across the sport and what makes you want to continue playing.

Oh yes! So here’s something interesting – basketball has never been one of my favourite sports to play. But let me tell you wheelchair basketball is a totally new experience! I never thought I would enjoy it so much but I did. How it came about was I was taking a module in school ‘Adapted Physical Activity & Recreation’ which is essentially learning different sports and activities catered for special needs and less abled individuals.

One of the lessons was to experience a wheelchair sport so we joined in for a training with the Singapore wheelchair basketball team. I think at first it is normal to think that compared to a normal game, wheelchair basketball would be less intense and therefore less fun. But don’t be fooled. This game is as rough, fast-paced and intense as it gets with wheelchair clashes being the norm. So all of that appealed to the adrenaline loving part of me 🙂 I just found a new found love for basketball after the session albeit in a slightly different form.

 

Tell us 5 things we didn’t know about the sport.

1- Wheelchair basketball can be played and good for as therapy for a wide-range of disabilities like spinal cord injury, stroke, amputees & muscular dystrophy.

2- Even though it is a wheelchair sport, it is a very intense and highly physical game. (But very safe!)

3- The wheelchair basketball players are not full time athletes and they have day jobs. But they are also our elite national athletes who represent SG in regional competitions like the ASEAN Para Games (talk about being special. You have to salute these guys for their dedication and tenacity)

4- So many takeaways from the activity besides experiencing a new sport. You’ll have a deeper appreciation for special needs individuals and the many adaptations they go through to lead a normal life. Moreover, for them to be strong and not let their disability get in their way and in fact make a most of their life now is inspirational. Makes you reflect on yourself if you are doing and making the most in life with what you have because these people do but with less.

5- Of course lastly it’s more fun than it sounds! You won’t know till you try and if you don’t, you are missing out.

Has playing wheelchair basketball with those who have walking disability changed you in any way? And would you recommend this to others out there?

It definitely left a big impression on me getting to know these special athletes. You learn not to take things for granted even the smallest things. I know we say this a lot but the true meaning never hits home until you walk alongside a wheelchair bound individual to the same destination. You will see how many things can become obstacles to them. A five minutes-walk for us can be twenty or thirty for them. Imagine that. Also, as I’ve learned from them, nothing is permanent. These athletes like to call us ‘temporarily abled’ because everything can change in a second and when that happens are we going to give up on life as we know it? These people didn’t.

Lastly it kind of reinforces my passion for what I am studying – to be able to see the incredible role sports have for less abled individuals. Adapted sports can help these individuals battle with depression or any negative emotions and help them develop a sense of purpose and belonging. Importantly, it is a great way to maintain or improve their physical functioning to help them cope better with activities of daily living and improve their quality of life.

I would definitely recommend this sport to everyone out there. Young or old, healthy or otherwise. You will stand to gain some benefit, make new friends, learn things you will never otherwise learn (I believe you would have never heard about wheelchair basketball if not for this article). Good thing is the team welcomes just about everyone to join in their training. They are more than happy to host and share about their sport.

 

Any last words?

Take time to learn more the para sports scene in SG. Not only wheelchair basketball, other sports also welcome volunteerism like goalball, wheelchair table tennis, visually-impaird football, cerebral palsy football and boccia. Find out about the athletes who wear the flag as proudly and deservedly on the chest as joseph schooling. They certainly could do more with some recognition and appreciation for their pursuits. They are special people who turned life on its head and we all could do with some inspiration and motivation in life.

 

Thank you Saufy for sharing your insights on Wheelchair Basketball with us. May your journey spreading rahmah and blessings to all through sports be blessed insyaAllah. Follow us for more stories of #humanswithrahmah, or email us at salaam@learnislam.sg if you know of any stories we can share with the world.

Rahmah begins with us. -U

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