By Rochelle Hughes
Missing a limb is no obstacle for a sports-mad rugby player who CAPTAINS an able-bodied team – despite being born without his right forearm.
Chris Young, 27, who suffered from congenital amputation, not only captains North Yorkshire competitive rugby union team Selby Fours but has taken the squad to third in their league.
The travel agent, who lives in Leeds, has always been interested in sport and played both football and rugby since his teens – since spending the last 10 years proving he’s more than capable of leading a team.
Chris, who plays as a wing and full back, initially worried his club would not be accepting of his disability but now proves he can drop kick, scrum, ruck and maul like the best of them.
He said: “Not having an arm has limited certain opportunities in life as people don’t want to take the gamble on me, but it has not held me back – it has only changed my path.
“The challenges I face every day are mainly from people not having belief in me.
“I feel I have to achieve something better than expected just to be considered as a real credit to a team, so that’s what I set out to do.
“When I first started playing rugby for the club I was really nervous because I didn’t know how everyone would react, but both the club and players have always been so supportive of me.
“Currently I’m player with room for improvement on my fitness but with some good attributes.
“People’s perception of a disability is the biggest obstacle for anyone with a disability.
All disabled means, to me, is that you are unable to do certain things as well or as easily as a person without a disability but the only thing that will stop you achieving whatever you want is yourself.
“I think this generation now are a lot more inclusive and accepting of disabilities than when I was growing up.
“I’m proud to even be a member of this rugby team but to be contributing as a captain for the great people down there is a great honour. I’m blown away by the accomplishments myself and the team have achieved this season. Every week when we go out and play I’m so proud.”
Selby Fours, a Saturday team, are currently third in the Northern Merit League– a huge 40 points away from the current losing team.
Alongside his squad, Chris also previously played for a physical disability Rugby League (PDRL) team where he played alongside journalist and television presenter, Alex Brooker and blind war veteran Simon Brown.
Chris said: “I’d like to think I had an input in the team improving. I’ve been blessed with an absolutely great set of guys that have all been behind everything we’ve been trying to achieve this season.
“I’m lucky because I’ve never been on the receiving end of any nastiness, there’s been difference of opinions however they’re usually talked out between the two parties after the game over a pint.
“The team are doing well this year, better than previous years and I don’t think that having one less arm has impacted the team at all as we all work really hard.”
Chris is still hoping to improve his game and continue to lead his Selby team to success – and is now encouraging more disabled people to join teams and not be scared of any stigmas.
He said: “We have five disabled rugby players from the PDRL playing with us and I really want to encourage clubs and players to just give disabled people a chance.
“We have a lot to offer and more often than not we work harder because we don’t want to let our disabilities hold us back.
“I really want to get in touch with older people who when they were younger felt that sport wasn’t for them.
“Sport, and especially rugby, is inclusive of everyone and keeping active is important but it’s also great for socialising which I know a lot of people with disabilities struggle with.”