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Blog: “The best thing about being active is feeling capable”

Activity Alliance features a blog post every Friday which shares the experiences of disabled people involved in sport and exercise at all levels. In this blog we continue this theme and hear from ice hockey player Nathan who tells us how being active makes him feel he can achieve anything.  

Nathan playing ice hockey with head guard and club kit on.

Hello my name is Nathan, I’m 30 years old, I’m from Oxford and I am an ice hockey player. I have retinitis pigmentosa, which means my sight is severely impaired.  

I currently play ice hockey for the Oxford Vikings Ice hockey club in the British Universities Ice Hockey League and attend training camps and tournaments run by Canadian Blind Hockey.

I played this sport growing up but stopped when I began to lose my sight. My partner decided that sight loss was not enough of an excuse to quit so found Canadian Blind Hockey and encouraged me to get in touch. My partner then helped me to join an understanding team in my local rink, as blind ice hockey is not a thing here.

So, as of January 2018 I started playing ice hockey again and went on my first trip to Toronto, and then Chicago in March. 

The best thing about being active is feeling capable and being able to achieve things. Being active supports me in my daily life too, as being fitter enables me to react better to obstacles I may miss, and I can see better when less tired. Generally, after a game I always feel elated and energetic. Also, I get to meet more people dealing with visual impairment and we end up sharing experiences. 

The support from my family and friends is immensely important to me, I could not do this without the relentless support of my fiancée, my parents and my team mates.  

I’m quite busy for the rest of the year, I have seven matches left to play in the regular season, a varsity game, a trip to the Canadian National Blind ice hockey tournament in Toronto, and a week-long training camp in Vancouver.

I am also hoping to try and organise a blind ice hockey taster session somewhere in the UK so we can start making a team. 

My advice to other disabled people wanting to take up a sport or activity but not sure where to start is - try something new, if you don't like it, try something else. The people you will meet and the physical and mental benefits make every effort worth it. 

If you want to be more active but aren't sure how to start, visit our dedicated webpages for advice

Visit the Oxford Vikings Ice Hockey website for more information. 

To contact Nathan, or follow his journey head to his Twitter channel.