Despite only playing for six months Ngāti Porou's Paul Hale is on his way to the top of wheelchair rugby.
There are many ways Wheelchair Rugby has reinvigorated Hale, "I like the physical aspect of it. I like the training as well and knowing that you actually have to train hard. It's quite a tiring game and it works a lot of muscles that you wouldn't normally use. So it's been really, really good."
Hale says people involved in the Bay of Plenty Wheelchair Rugby scene had been trying to convince him to have a go at the sport, but he wasn't motivated to do so. He attended an open day however and his attitude towards the game, and life changed. He began training and playing locally in the Bay of Plenty.
"I got scouted out at one of the bash tournaments we had and got invited to the Wheel Blacks training camps and that was a real blessing for me because it got me out of my little town and got me out and about and got me out of my comfort zone," he says.
Hale acquired his spinal cord injury 14 years ago, at first he thought "that was it", but says many things have changed since then and now that he is playing Wheelchair Rugby "there's purpose, and there's hope now." Hale looks forward to his future and is hoping Wheelchair Rugby has a role to play in it.
In 2019 the Wheel Blacks will participate in tournaments in Japan and Paralympic qualifying tournaments for Tokyo 2020, and Hale would love to be involved.
"It's a memory that I can carry into my life, and it's something that I can wear and something that I can really say that I've done and especially travelling the world, wow that's going to be something pretty cool."
Hale is an example that with inspiration, and motivation, nothing is impossible.