This week in the Waterview Laundromat Local Q&A, we caught up with Otara Scorpions stalwart and New Zealand Physical Disability Rugby League rep Jim Doolan, to chat footy and the upcoming event at the Emerging Nations World Championship.
I started playing in 1985 in the Senior B comp for Otara. I then coached and managed through the Otara club. I’m still at the club now, I am a life member there and I continue to volunteer there. I have played masters, in the able-bodied team, and along the way I have picked up some handy skills and advice. I’ve been lucky really. I have eight sisters and two brothers, but it’s really only me who is into league now.
You’ve remained with the Otara Scorpions the whole way through. What makes that club so special to you?
I was born and bred in Otara. The club are really good with kids, looking after them through league and community stuff, we teach them a lot of good stuff. It’s a really good club, especially for such a small community. These days I set up their fields every Saturday for all of the teams. The Otara club have also always supported me with whatever I wanted to do within the physical disability space.
Congratulations on being named as part of the New Zealand Physical Disability squad for the event at the Emerging Nations World Championship. How did it feel when you found out?
It was really good to find out. I didn’t think I would be in there to be honest, I’m getting a bit old, I’m 58 now, but it was really cool to be named. I was mainly involved initially because I thought I could help the others learn. Many of them hadn’t played a game before in their life. One of those guys who started with me, Ben Tuimaseve, he is in the New Zealand team as well which is really cool.
How important is it for you to know you are helping people to learn the game and be part of rugby league?
That’s really big. For them to have the opportunity, well they never had that before. People tell you they never played before because they didn’t have the chance – they were too shy, there was no place for them – now they are playing something their parents and siblings are able to, and they just love it. For them to get the chance to play for New Zealand now is pretty cool. It’s going to be pretty special.
People with all sorts of physical disabilities take the field, tell us about yours?
I was born with it. My right arm has no forearm and I only have two fingers on it, and my left arm can’t be straightened, and I only have four fingers on that hand. But it’s nothing to me, I was born with it, so it’s normal.
Have you had to make many adaptions in order to get through a match?
From playing normal league I used to it. I have always played sport. I adapt as I have to, it doesn’t come into my mind. But helping others with different disabilities learn how to do it is the bigger challenge.
Finally, tell us your dream for physical disability league over the next five years or so.
Within New Zealand, to have a competition where we can play every second week or at least once a month across New Zealand. To be supported by the New Zealand Warriors or other NRL clubs, who can help you get around and have games that help people see the game. That would be really cool.