Vodafone Warriors prop James Gavet has taken up a role as an ambassador for Physical Disabilities Rugby League New Zealand (PDRLNZ).
PDRLNZ is for any able-bodied athlete with a physical disability who has a desire to play rugby league. The game has been modified depending on the impairment level of each individual.
After attending team trainings at the Otara Scorpions’ home base in South Auckland, Gavet saw the difficulties they faced to get team sponsorship and gear as well as attendance and travel to and from trainings.
“We approached James to be our ambassador because he epitomises our core values of respect, integrity, acceptance of diversity and the belief that all things are possible,” said PDRLNZ spokeswoman Sandra Hickey.
Gavet, who is in rehab with a broken arm, says his recovery from the injury has provided him a better understanding of what it feels like being physically disabled.
“These people soldier on every day. You don’t even realise how much we take for granted with the smallest things like hanging up the washing, getting dressed, showering and in a lot of cases getting out of bed,” he said.
“It’s a big deal to me because they are athletes, too. They’ve just had a bad run”.
Hickey says the PDRLNZ’s mission is to ensure the theoretical right to sport is met providing physically disabled people across New Zealand with unique rugby league experiences.
“For those playing it is a life changer to be able to play the game that they love instead of watching from home or the side lines,” she said.
Gavet is fighting for greater recognition for PDRLNZ.
“They’re no different to our Paralympians who get sponsorships, first-class treatment and television exposure. They need all the support they can get,” he said.
“Sir Peter Leitch has put a few ads for PDRL in his newsletters which has been huge.
“I’ve got a lot respect for these people. To keep fit and excel in a sport on top of their daily struggles is simply amazing”.
PDLRNZ is working towards a nines tournament in November which will include New South Wales Physical Disabilities Rugby League Australia (NSWPDRLA) teams hosted in Auckland. Teams featured include the Manly Sea Eagles, South Sydney Rabbitohs and the newly-formed West Tigers and Waitemata Seagulls.
The tournament will be played at Waitemata’s home ground Ranui Domain in Waitakere City from November 3-5.