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“If something’s impossible, make it possible,” says 35-year-old Tim Ragg.
It’s a life motto that has steered him well. When you discover Tim’s story, you realise the hard won wisdom of his words.
Tim is one of many people Mable is celebrating this International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD). He is a dad of two and Captain of the West Tigers Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) team. He has also represented New Zealand in the PDRL World Cup and is something of a sporting jack of all trades.
Prayer is a powerful thing
Tim grew up in New Zealand and suffered a stroke when he was born. “I died for three minutes,” he reveals. Eventually, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“I didn’t actually walk or talk until I was a little over 3 years old and of course, it was a struggle for my family.
“My dad prayed for me, and then one day, I started walking and talking, just like that. So yeah, prayer does work, it’s a powerful thing,” Tim shares.
Discovering a passion for sport
Tim and his love for sports goes a long way back. In high school, at the age of 16, he started Special Olympics swimming, mainly as a way to get a break from the bullying he was experiencing at school, he says.
It turns out he was a natural in the pool. Six years on, after winning swimming championships all over New Zealand, Tim was scouted for paralympics and decided to try his hand at discus throwing.
“I started doing discus, and then I ended up smashing the New Zealand discus record and I got chosen to represent New Zealand at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.”
The next chapter of Tim’s life saw him and his wife cross the Tasmin to move to Australia, where he has lived for over a decade now. Sport took a pause.
But not for long.
One day, when walking down the street, another scout spotted Tim’s sporting potential. This time for a different competition altogether!
“He said, ‘Come and try the sport out’. So I did, and I fell in love with it,” says Tim.
That sport was Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) – an adaptation of rugby league for people with physical disability. Long story short, Tim is now Captain of the PDRL West Tigers team and has represented New Zealand at the World Cup playing PDRL in 2022.
Tim was also featured on The Pacific Sports Show ahead of the World Cup.
“To be completely honest,” Tim adds, “I was rescued by sports. If it hadn’t been for sports, I wouldn’t be where I am today, I would be in a lot of trouble.”
Advocacy through representation
Tim recalls a heartwarming moment at the recent PDRL World Cup finals in the UK. “At the end of the match, a dad with his ten-year-old son, who also has cerebral palsy, approached me. He told me his son had been following my World Cup journey,” Tim says.
“He said to me, ‘Are you able to maybe talk to him?’”
Tim introduced himself to the young fan. “I took my boot off, signed it and gave it to him,” he says.
Support behind the success
Like all success stories, Tim acknowledges the importance of support to achieve his sporting goals (which has also included representing New Zealand in rowing, we should mention!). Support he’s received not only from family and friends, but also through Mable.
Receiving the Mable Community Grant enabled him to train hard and compete in the PDRL World Cup.
“I also had the ongoing support of my support worker on Mable, who not only encouraged me every step of the way, but was alongside me at the gym, and the physio, in preparation for the Cup.
“Everything that he’s done, it’s been absolutely fantastic,” says Tim.
Read some of our other incredible stories for IDPwD 2022:
- Penny: IDPwD 2022: “I’m a person with disability — not a disabled person”
- Caitlin: IDPwD 2022: “I think I’m as smart and talented as anyone else”
- Kathy: IDPwD 2022: “Autistic adults are everywhere, they are creative, have relationships, and run businesses”