Story of Change: Peniasi Rawaidranu

Name: Peniasi Rawaidranu

Age: 35

Gender: Male

Country: Fiji Island

Disability: Spinal Injury

When & how did you first become involved with the Smash Down Barriers Program and Para Table Tennis?
This year in March.

Why do you play table tennis? Do you play any other sports?
I play table tennis because it’s my first time and I feel interested when I saw it and also I always admire our disable members who played this sport.

What’s your favourite thing about table tennis?
When I knew the techniques and able to use it in playing against others.

Were you born with your disability or did you acquire it?
I was born disabled.

How has table tennis changed your life?
In terms of physical its helps me keep fit and playing games make me awake all the time and know what to do in order to win over opponents. It builds confidence in myself despite my disability I am able to play this sport. I thought I would never play any sports but through table tennis I knew I’m capable of playing this sport. While training this sport I’m able to make friends and meet people that I never met before, this has made my life better in many ways. When my family first heard that I was playing table tennis they were surprised; they also thought that I would never play any sports. Now I see my families and friends are so supportive and encouraging since this is my first sport. Before I started table tennis it was just work, church gathering and home. Now I have added a place to spend time which is the training venue; apart from training there is a lot of fun in it.

Please list the changes in your situation ‘BEFORE’ you became involved with table tennis and your situation ‘AFTER’.
Before, I was physically unfit
After, I know I am able to move and twist and do movements I have never done before.
Before, I have limited friends.
After, I have so many friends through training and competitions.
Before, I thought I will never play any sports because of my disability.
After, I am proud to say that I am playing table tennis, a sport which is played by all.

Do you think table tennis has changed the way people perceive you and others who play table tennis? Yes, because suddenly I became a sport man and this surprised people.

What are the benefits of playing table tennis? Have you experienced any surprising unexpected benefits?
I have experienced better health conditions, for example I have better movements than before. Being recognised by many. I also have the benefits of meeting famous people that I only get to read about them in the media.

Interviewed by Harvi Yee