“I’m Cooper Whitestyles, 20 years old and I come from Mackay. I’ve always lived there and I’m one of four children. I was born with Hetroguzus achondroplasia, which is short limb dwarfism, and due to my condition, I’ve had over 30 surgeries during my lifetime.”
The rest is history
“One day I went to a sporting expo where there was a display stand for the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association and I thought, this is for me. I really wanted to do a sport, find something that I could connect with and get involved in. Well, that was a good day, because the rest is history.
I now play wheelchair basketball and lawn bowls, I’m an ambassador for the Association and I help man the stand at all sorts of expos to get people interested, just like I was. I’m right into sports and absolutely love NRL, but due to my condition can’t play. So, I’m an avid supporter from the sidelines, and usually the guy cheering the loudest.”
“Sporting Wheelies has given me the feeling of inclusion, along with lots of opportunities. It’s given me a sense of belonging to a very special family and I’ve met countless new friends over the last few years, all through my involvement with the Association.
I got into it all because I wanted to play sport, which the Association has enabled me to do. I’ve played lawn bowls at a state competition level, and was the youngest and first disabled guy to win the B grade singles title at our local club open.”
Playing for Australia
“I’ve also played wheelchair basketball at a local and national level for both juniors and seniors. To top it off, I’ve just completed my first year as a rookie for the Perth Red Dust Heelers, where I was awarded the Kevin Coombes award. I was pretty chuffed to get that. I’ve also been selected into the Australian under 23 squad, which is a real honour.
At the moment, I’m training hard to accomplish my goal of playing for Australia in the 2021 World Junior Championships, then I hope to be able to start my open men’s roller journey. That would be awesome.
If you’d asked me years ago if I’d be doing all this now, I would have said no way. But here I am, thanks to the Association and lots of great people who make amazing opportunities happen.”