Wheelchair rugby is often thought of as a male dominated sport. There are women who are making their presence known as they take the court, and they’re not holding back!
Miranda Biletski was introduced to wheelchair rugby by watching the documentary “Murderball” while she was in a rehabilitation hospital in Canada. Miranda started playing for a local team at 17 years old. She was representing her country (Canada) two years later and was the only female on the national team. Miranda states that the international stage for wheelchair rugby is accepting of female athletes.
“My teammates definitely do not hold back with the hits when we train and practise. I think sport and fitness are important for everyone regardless of its type of physical limitations. That is something that is really evident with rugby. It is a sport filled with a lot of really amazing athletes [who] lead normal productive lives. They don't expect any handouts or special treatment.”
Daniela Luchina played an influential role in getting wheelchair rugby to be recognized in Argentina. She helped build the first national team for Argentina in 2008. The team went on to take third in the Buenos Aires 2009 IWRF Americas Zone Championship and qualified for the Vancouver 2010 IWRF World Championships. Daniela says that some men were hesitant to be playing among females.
“Men were a bit afraid of hitting me hard at the beginning, but then they got used to playing with me with a lot of friction.”
Yeny Paola Martinez represented Colombia in wheelchair rugby during the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, which served as the Rio 2016 Paralympic qualifying event for the Americas zone. She was the only female player for her team.
“There are many women who become wheelchair bound and remain depressed at their homes. They believe life is over. But when they get to know more about sports and start practising them, they see how wonderful they are for overcoming difficult moments and getting stronger.”
Maia Amai started playing wheelchair rugby to help build self confidence. She started practicing and playing with the New Zealand national wheelchair rugby team after a player on the team saw her playing wheelchair basketball. Maia was the only female member of the team. Maia says, “playing wheelchair rugby is so much fun. I would definitely suggest a woman to start playing it. Besides, we need more women in this sport.”
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