The batonbearers for the XX Commonwealth Games are all incredibly unique and diverse individuals who have endeavoured for their communities. Three years ago University of Dundee medical student Elizabeth Ferris suffered a spinal cord Injury which resulted in her becoming a full-time wheelchair user. Due to a lack of options around the Tayside area Elizabeth took it upon herself to found the Dundee Dragons Wheelchair Rugby League Club.
“I was disheartened to begin with; I had enjoyed playing sports my entire life. To be honest, I thought I would never have a chance to compete again. But after reading about people faced with the same challenges that I had and how they overcame them, I was given a real boost.”
Before the club's formation there were no sporting opportunities in Dundee for active wheelchair users. The club now has 20 registered members representing all age groups and levels of ability.
“We’re not just a rugby club. Our basketball team and our tennis teams are really popular. We at the Dundee Dragons are also open to suggestions from our members. If someone wanted to try another sport that we don’t currently offer, we can accommodate.”
The club enjoys excellent support from the local community and has expanded to offer regular wheelchair basketball, tennis and curling sessions alongside its core rugby focus. When Elizabeth heard about her nomination, she had this to say:
“It's a huge honour to have been chosen as a batonbearer, Hopefully it shows other wheelchair users that their disability doesn't have to define them. There really are no barriers to what you can achieve".
"We all love competing in sport, no matter what abilities we have. Our disabilities don’t define us, our enthusiasm and our willingness to be part of a team do.
Dundee has become Elizabeth’s adoptive home, having moved from Northern Ireland to study medicine. Over the past twelve months the club has grown spectacularly and the city has become a thriving hub for the people of Tayside to come and enjoy disability sports.
Seven Dundee Dragons have been chosen to represent Scotland in wheel chair rugby and Elizabeth will be the Scotland manager at this year’s Wheelchair Rugby World Cup, a responsibility that she will relish:
“It’s a different hat to wear this time around. I know a few of the guys from my time in the Scotland team and have to say I do feel like I have to be more of an organiser. It has been such a steep learning curve for me. It’s something you have to take in your stride and really work on as a coach”.
The club also celebrates the fact that it is multi-sport orientated, with transferable skills from sports that require steady hands and an eye for a pass, as Elizabeth says:
“Take me for example; I hadn’t played much basketball before my mobility problems. However, some of the guys here who did play basketball have brought their incredible hand co-ordination skills and the rest of the club has benefited from this share of information.”
The Dundee Dragons club is constantly growing and people can come and contribute to the running of the club and support its members from all walks of life.
“The club is a combination of hard work from us guys wanting to get better at the sports they love and the support of some fantastic volunteers. I can’t say it enough that without the volunteers and the people that contribute to the club, there wouldn’t be a Dundee Dragons.”