Asian Para Games: Para athletes recall sport as life changer
Callistasia Anggun Wijaya
The Jakarta Post
Now a captain of the Indonesian sitting volleyball team for the Asian Para Games, Nasrullah, 35, did not plan to be an athlete when he first entered the Prof. Soeharso Social Rehabilitation Center for People with Physical Disabilities (BBRSBD) in Surakarta, Central Java, back in 1997.
The rehabilitation center is operated by the Social Affairs Ministry and it provides training to people with disabilities, so that they can have special skills for life.
At that time, Nasrullah, a native of Madura, East Java, who has lower-limb disability, decided to sharpen his computer skills.
However, Nasrullah’s life soon changed when his trainers encouraged him and other trainees to pursue their hobbies, including sports. It was in rehab that Nasrullah learned about sitting volleyball and fell in love with the sport.
He then focused on training at the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) training center, also in Surakarta.
Nasrullah decided to become a professional volleyball para athlete and joined the national team. In 2011, the team competed in the 2011 ASEAN Para Games in Surakarta and won bronze.
Besides physical skills, playing sitting volleyball needs mental strength, he said.
“The most important thing I learned at the BBRSBD was to change my mindset, volleyball changed my life in terms of welfare, but what really changed me was the mindset,” Nasrullah told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
The men’s sitting volleyball team failed to advance in the Asian Para Games after succumbing to South Korea on Wednesday.
Evaluating the performance of his team, Nasrullah said the athletes needed to strengthen their mental spirit in the future games.
Nasrullah, who now works as a civil servant at the East Java administration, said he hoped the government could help the team improve its performance by staging sitting volleyball championships in the country.
That way the team could compete and play well in the 2019 ASEAN Para Games, he said.
Meanwhile, Usmar, 34, an Indonesian archer who participated in the Asian Para Games, agreed that his life had changed when he entered the BBRSBD in 2005. The resident of Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, said the BBRSBD accommodated his archery training with the NPC.
The wheelchair user said he focused on becoming a professional archer because the sport had greatly changed his life.
“I used to not have a life purpose. Archery has changed me and given me confidence. It also helps me to have many friends,” he said.
Before the Para Games, he participated in several national and international championships, including in Myanmar ( 2013 ) and Singapore ( 2015 ).
Umar failed to pass the disabled classifications for the Para Games, but he got a chance to perform in the competition early this week.
He registered to play in the W1 (wheelchair) class, but the team of doctors who checked the classification of all athletes, said he had yet to fulfill the categories required in the category.
Despite the disappointment, Umar said he would keep practicing to become a good archer. His dream was to see Indonesia’s flag raised in the Paralympics, he said.
Irfan, Umar’s coach, said he would train Umar to play in the standing class.
He added he was hopeful that Umar and other athletes in his team would perform well in the 2019 ASEAN Para Games.
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