Sporting glory: Mable Community Grant recipient Tim Ragg on representing Mable ahead of Rugby League World Cup
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Every year, Mable’s Community Grants fund people and projects that promote independence and inclusion for people with disability and older Australians. Timothy Ragg, who recently received one, is on his way to fulfilling his sporting dream through the Grant.
Tim, a former New Zealand Paralympic Discus Thrower, captain of the West’s Tigers Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) team and a New Zealand International Front Rower, shares his story and how the Grant will help on his sporting journey.
A chance encounter with a stranger on the street was the serendipitous catalyst for the Paralympian’s now burgeoning PDRL career. Originally from New Zealand, Tim moved across the ‘ditch’ in 2011. “Before I left to come over to Australia, I broke the [discus] distance record and was in the process of getting selected to represent New Zealand,” Tim explains. “When I came to Australia with my girlfriend, now wife, I had no avenue for sport.”
But as fate would have it, a PDRL scout spotted Tim walking along a Sydney street one day, enquired about his physical disability and suggested Tim could make a great rugby league player. “He explained about PDRL and…invited me out to a trial. There were a lot of scouts there at the club and one coach, who seemed interested in me said ‘Son, with your potential you could go far.’”
That man was Marco Quintao Snr, coach of the West’s Tigers PDRL team and the person Tim credits for training and mentoring him to be the player he is today – captain of the West’s Tigers PDRL team and soon-to-be competitor at the first ever PDRL World Cup, an exhibition event to be held in October during the end-of-season Rugby League World Cup 2021 in the UK.
Tim is currently training hard in the lead-up to the event, incorporating a mixture of cardiovascular and weight training into his weekly regime. “My training is going great on a day-to-day basis,” he says.
“I generally go to the gym [and] at least twice a week I spend two hours on the rower. Then from Wednesday to Friday, I train certain muscle groups.”
PDRL is a full contact, running version of rugby league adapted for participants with a physical disability. The game was founded in Australia by South Sydney player George Tonna and expanded to the northern hemisphere in 2018 when the first ever PDRL game was played in the UK. In Australia, there are currently six teams in the NSWPDRL division – Sydney Roosters, Wests Tigers, Newtown Jets, Parramatta Eels, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs.
When it comes to PDRL, the game is much more than a job for Tim, it has already provided numerous invaluable life moments he holds very dear. “The thing I love about rugby league is knowing you are playing with people with the same disability as yours, and the brotherhood that the inclusion of the sport provides,” he said.
“Playing alongside my mentor and global founder of PDRL, George Tonna, at the 2018 Grand Final against the South Sydney Rabbitohs was a memorable moment. And in 2019, I was selected to represent the NZ PDRL Pacifica Team to face the PDRL All Stars. It was a real privilege to be able to play for not only my New Zealand heritage, but also my dad’s culture as a half-Fijian.”
Off the sporting field, aside from being a grant recipient, Tim is also set to represent Mable at the Rugby League World Cup campaign. Tim, who works for the Mable Finance Team, says it’s wonderful to be able to utilise his life experience in his day-to-day work. “I can relate to the majority of my clients that I am trying to help.”
He says he initially approached Mable CEO Peter Scutt for assistance in the lead-up to the World Cup and adds that he was thrilled with the response. “I explained to him about my story and how I needed help with the preparation for the World Cup, and his first reaction was ‘How can I help and how much do you need?’” Tim says.
“The Mable Community Grant has been able to support me to get to England and achieve my ultimate goal of representing New Zealand at the Physical Disability Rugby League World Cup.”
On the subject of representing Mable, Tim is just as appreciative, “To be honest, it is a real privilege and an honour to be bestowed as a Brand Ambassador for Mable. It is something I will forever cherish and not take lightly.”
Looking ahead, Tim is firmly focused on his World Cup training schedule and a successful campaign in the UK, while aiming to inspire as many others as he can along the way. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my older brother Aaron and the persistence of my wife Steffany and my mum Brenda encouraging me to not only pursue my dream, but helping me to identify that I can use my disability as an awareness to help others,” he says.
“I am a firm believer of ‘Always believe in the impossible!’”