For this weeks Members Monday feature we caught up with Rahim Nazarali.
Rahim is 43 years of age and live in Dublin.
2. How did you first get involved sport ?
I was first introduced to sport at St. Joseph’s School In Drumcondra which is now known as Child Vision.
I went there from the age of 7. As children we were encouraged to participate in many sports such as Football Leagues, running, swimming and general sports days. I remember when I played football I could not really see the ball so I was put in goal. Every Thursday we went to Malahide to go horse riding. Horse riding was a sport I grew to love and did for 5 years. I loved the independence of controlling the horse, the speed and the high jumps.
When I was 11 I was introduced to judo. I loved Judo from the outset. It is a sport suitable for people with a vision impairment as all judo players must take a grip of their fellow player before beginning a judo practice or competition.
My brothers went to Karate and Taekwondo classes and martial art films were a big thing in my house. It was great to be part of the action and feel included in the banter at home. I loved taking part in a sport where I could compete against opponents with and without vision impairments.
3. What is it that you enjoy most about sports and physical activity?
I love the feel good facter of physical sports and taking part in an activity.
For me it was the sense of competition as well as the social activity.
When representing my club and Ireland in national and international competitions I enjoyed being part of a team and the camaraderie.
It is still important to me to keep fit and exercise through cardio and strength training in the gym and currently at home.
4. Were you previously or are you still involved with any other sports?
Before COVID19 I was a regular Gym goer as well as taking part in swimming classes. I also participated in water sports, especially Water skiing and I progressed to wake boarding. I have also taken on some other challenges such as walking the full length of the Royal and Grand canal and a few Tandem cycles around the country.
During COVID times I had to adapt my exercise routine. We were lucky to be able to buy a set of kettle bells at the start of the pandemic before they sold out. I now exercise at home using Blind Alive Eyes Free Fitness recordings and videos from a gym I used to go to. I designed my own kettle bell weight training and go for walks with my guide dog Paris most days.
5. What challenges and/or obstacles did you face, if any, getting involved in sport and leisure? (i.e. lack of awareness, volunteers, resources, choice of sport)
My biggest challenge in taking part in sports was not lack of inclusion or resources, but transport. For example, getting to unfamiliar or difficult to reach venues for training sessions or competitions and competitions starting early on a Sunday before public transport is running.
I had challenges when trying to find a pilot for tandem cycling which pushed me to move on to a different sport. Also transporting gear can be a problem.
With every sport and activity you can have a bad experience due to people’s lack of awareness or interest in inclusion, however overall I have been welcomed at most clubs and gyms. My approach is to be honest from the start about what I require and if I feel my needs are not being met, I will negotiate to find a solution.
6. What would you consider to be your biggest sporting achievement to date big or small?
My biggest sporting achievement to date is representing Ireland as a judo player at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta.
7. What piece of advice would you give to someone in the vision impaired community who would like to get involved in sports?
I think trying out many different sports will give you the opportunity to find out what you are good at and what sports suits you as an individual.
Talking to other people with a vision impairment, who take part in sports or fitness can also help you to get useful tips.
8. What athlete do you admire most and why?
I was a big fan of Bruce Lee. Not only was he a great Martial Artist, but he also survived a major back injury which could have ended his career.
He recovered through many methods of self improvement and his mantra was to always find the positive in everything he did to better himself.
9. Outside of sport what do you so in your leisure time?
I enjoy cooking and will try my hand at creating dishes from many ethnic backgrounds.
I also love to read audio books based on history, biography and cultural exploration.
10. What does sport mean to you?
Sport to me is about taking part and being included and to have a sense of belonging.
Goal setting is important, whether the goal is something small like going for a daily walk or something big like training for a marathon. Even a little bit of physical exercise is a start.