Wednesday I volunteered to take Lamine, Marebo and Amara up to the Municipal Sports Center in Santa Cruz. They have been going for a couple of weeks now, to play basketball. It didn’t occur to me just how they would do this. I had a vague awareness of there being sports organizations for disabled people, things I’d seen on TV, I knew there is an Olympic Event following the main Event every time, but the specifics never occured to me.
Bear in mind too, that I have known these, three guys for a while now, and so I hardly ever think of them in terms of being disabled, they get about, and do things with their friends and with people from the Center almost normally. It was a bit of a shock, then, to realize that in order to play basketball they have to use wheelchairs. I went into the store room whilst they tried various ones, and Lamine strapped himself in. Evidently, last week he had fallen out! Then I went and sat outside on a bench to wait for them, whilst the coach got changed.
After a few moments they glided out, silently onto the blue court, the silverly wheels of the chairs making no sound. The moment became surreal and seemed to drift into slow motion for me as they gracefully wheeled about the space, getting the feel of the chairs, and I absorbed the fact that these guys did not have “normal” lives and capabilities. My thoughts drifted with them, and the events which must have brought them to this time and place.
My reverie didn’t last too long though. The trainer’s entrance was brisk and fast, and he soon had them practising moves with the chairs, and doing arm and back exercises, and eventually handling the ball and practise throws. I was with them all the way, laughing, mentally cheering them on, and resisting the temptation to scope up the ball and throw it back when it came close to me. Hardly ever has an hour and a half of my life gone by so quickly.
I have to say it was emotional, though I think they’d hate that, or be confused by it. Seems like I have a regular task Wednesdays now, and it looks like being fun.