Meet a Member - Paul Hale
We recently caught up with Wheelchair Rugby rising star Paul Hale from Edgecumbe. Managing to squeeze in a call before he started his Wheel Black’s training camp in Palmerston North, Paul is a busy guy!
Paul’s only been playing wheelchair rugby two years. Through his own drive and determination, he’s managed to secure himself a spot in the Wheel Blacks squad and is a valued member of the Bay of Plenty Steamrollers team.
Were you doing any form of exercise or sport before you started playing rugby?
I wasn’t playing any sports and realised that I was losing a bit of strength so did gym work, a bit of strength training. I knew I wanted to stay active and keep as healthy as you could.
How’s life changed since you started playing wheelchair rugby?
It all happened so quickly. Doors have been opened and opportunities have come up which I didn’t even know were possible. It’s provided a different outlook for me.
I never had any drive to pursue sports, I just thought I’d go for a look, I got into a chair and really liked it!
What’s your journey been like getting into the Wheel blacks?
Fast. Getting into the Wheel Blacks has given me a hunger and a drive. I was only training for BOP and not trying to make the NZ team. When I was at a tournament I got asked to go along to a training camp. From there it gave me a push to train hard, what I was doing at home, I could then take that onto the court.
In late 2018 Paul was chosen in the NZ development team which travelled to Thailand’s Asia Regional Qualifier tournament.
“Paul had a phenomenal rise to the national squad in first year of play. I don’t think I’ve seen this happen in nearly 30 years of being involved in this sport.” Neil Cudby, Coach
Coming into qualifying for Tokyo 2020, what’s your training regime like?
I’m doing something pretty much every day. I need to listen to my body, if I have an intense training day, then that’s followed by recover. I feel I’m in a good place now with my fitness, I just need to maintain this.
In 3 months the Wheel Blacks will be traveling to Korea for the Asia Oceania Zonal Championship with the goal of qualifying to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Unfortunately I won’t traveling to Korea as an opportunity came up to go to Fiji to complete a mission, still a little unsure of the details of the trip, but really looking forward to that opportunity!
What are your goals for the year ahead?
In the short term, just to stay focused on the tournaments ahead and learn as much as I can in lead up games and develop my skills.
To make the Paralympics is the ultimate goal.
What would you say to someone that is still ‘on the fence’ about trying a (disability) sport?
They need to find it in themselves, it needs to be something they want to do…..But making up excuses isn’t going to help. I used to make up heaps of excuses, but then when I finally went down and had a look, realised that it was for me. There’s a real family environment at wheelchair rugby. They were very welcoming, which really helped.
Any other comments you might like to pass on to fellow Parafed BOP Members….
Life is too short to just muck around with it. At the end of the day it’s down to the individual, it’s their own choice. If they are dealing with a lot of things for example depression, it’s something that can isolate people. That’s when you need to try and get around people that will uplift and encourage you
In two short years Paul has achieved so much. From being part of the first Bay of Plenty Wheelchair Rugby team to compete at a national tournament, taking home the NZ Nationals 2018 Rookie of the Tournament award, but to also be scouted for the Wheel Blacks would have really topped off the year!
Paul recently won Sportsman of the Year at the Festival of Disability Sport 2019 in March. With international tournaments under his belt and the potential for Tokyo 2020, sky’s the limit!
It’s been a fast and exciting journey for Paul, he’s put in a lot of hard work which is paying off!! We're excited for him and what lies ahead!