“I love the fast pace and the roughness. Even though it’s a touch sport and not tackle there is still lots of crash and bash. I also love team sports and it is great to be a part of a team again and play in a league in front of a crowd.”
This is Tasmanian Josh Christian describing why he takes to the court for Wheelchair AFL, a game he plays in the Victorian Wheelchair Football League with Collingwood.
But Wheelchair AFL is just one of the sports he’s played at an elite level. A love for sport and a thirst to play at the top level has seen Josh excel in wheelchair tennis and basketball too, taking him to not only national, but international competition.
His first taste of wheelchair sports came through ParaQuad Tasmania.
“I first started off playing wheelchair basketball after finding out about it through my OT,” Josh explained.
“I started with some local guys playing socially every weekend. Through wheelchair basketball I have been lucky enough to play in the national wheelchair basketball league with Dandenong Rangers and the Sydney Wheelkings which was an amazing experience – travelling around the country playing wheelchair basketball at the highest level in Australia. ”
And even more amazing experiences were to come.
“Whilst living in Sydney and playing for the Wheelkings, I also joined the Australian men’s wheelchair basketball squad the Rollers. This enabled me to be able to train at the NSW Institute of Sport and be part of the Rollers camp, leading up to the world championships that year.”
But this was not the first time Josh represented Australia playing elite sport.
“Before deciding I wanted to pursue wheelchair basketball, I also played wheelchair tennis. I was able to travel around the country competing in tournaments and even getting selected in the Australian team for the world team cup in Italy in 2008.”
Josh travelled to Poland for a warm-up tournament and then to Italy for the World Team Cup – the equivalent of the Davis cup.
Now back in Tasmania, and travelling regularly to Melbourne to play Wheelchair AFL, Josh’s sports story has come full circle – taking up a volunteer role with ParaQuad Tasmania, coaching weekly wheelchair basketball sessions.
“I really like the idea of developing people to enable them to have the same experiences that I have been lucky enough to have,” says Josh of his reason to take on coaching.
“I know first-hand how much sport has changed my life and I would love to be a part of developing people to be able to do the same.”
And on the question of getting involved in sport with ParaQuad Tasmania, Josh says “absolutely, do it.
“You don’t have to have a disability or be good at sports. It’s all about a fun time and getting out socially.
“Obviously there is scope to build on skills and it can provide a pathway to playing your chosen sport at the highest level, which I have been lucky enough to achieve.”
Josh will be Playing Captain of the Tasmania team in the Toyota Australia 2023 Wheelchair AFL National Championships, to be held 1-5 November 2023 in Victoria.
If you’d like to get involved in sports with ParaQuad Tasmania, email email@example.com or call 6272 8816.
Photo credits: Collingwood Football Club (L) and Nerissa Byrne Photography (R).