A love for sports over­rides dis­abil­ity


‘‘He al­ways pushes him­self, he al­ways has since he was a baby’’

Noth­ing gets in the way of 10-year old Jah­stice Har­ris Matthews who is set to com­pete in this year’s Hal­berg Ju­nior Dis­abil­ity Games.

The young Ngaru­awahia res­i­dent with cere­bral palsy is set to take part in ath­let­ics and boc­cia among oth­ers sports in the Oc­to­ber event.

Run over three days at Kings Col­lege in Pa­pakura, the sports com­pe­ti­tion is for phys­i­cally dis­abled and vis­ually im­paired 8 to 21 year olds.

Around 200 ath­letes are ex­pected to com­pete in nine re­gional teams across a range of sports.

Jah­stice was di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion af­ter a se­vere head in­jury when he was six months old, his mum Girly Har­ris said.

‘‘It was just the phys­i­cal part of his brain,’’ she said.

Aca­dem­i­cally, he has no prob­lems, but the con­di­tion causes tight­en­ing of the mus­cles, af­fect­ing move­ment and bal­ance.

He uses splints and goes to phys­io­ther­apy.

But his love of sports over­rides the dif­fi­cul­ties he faces.

‘‘He just ac­cepted it and he just does the best with what he’s got,’’ Har­ris said.

‘‘He al­ways pushes him­self, he al­ways has since he was a baby.’’

You’ll of­ten find Jah­stice play­ing rugby in the full back pos- ition at lunch time with his friends.

And once a week he trav­els to the Waikato Univer­sity recre­ational cen­tre with his sup­port worker to play sports.

It’s a place where he feels nor­mals, Har­ris said.

Huntly’s Kale Hunter will also be com­pet­ing for the third time in the Hal­berg Ju­nior Dis­abil­ity Games.

The 20-year-old will be rep­re­sent­ing Waikato in wheel­chair bas­ket­ball.

Born with with spina bi­fida, has earned him­self a spot on the New Zealand un­der 23 wheel­chair bas­ket­ball team last year.

He has pre­vi­ously re­ceived sup­port from the Hal­berg Foun­da­tion to­wards a bas­ket­ball wheel­chair which he will be us­ing in this year’s games.

The games is a sports fes­ti­val style event that will in­clude an open­ing cer­e­mony. The cel­e­bra­tion will in­clude light­ing the of­fi­cial Games flame and a pa­rade of the re­gional teams and spe­cial guest, Olympic pole vault bronze medal­list, El­iza McCart­ney.

Rugby fa­natic Jah­stice Har­ris Matthews is look­ing for­ward to com­pet­ing in the Hal­berg Ju­nior Dis­abil­ity Games.

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