April 18, 2014
It is a rare feat for an athlete to represent their state at a national level for 10 consecutive years.
But for Kyle Scolari (pictured) it is a milestone he is about to achieve.
Scolari, 25, will don the black and gold shirt for the tenth time when Western Australia’s Western Wasps take part in the National Electric Wheelchair Sports competition in Sydney starting on April 21.
The tournament includes revised versions of rugby, hockey and soccer – all of which are modified for players who have neuromuscular conditions.
Despite the changes to the sports’ traditional formats the tournament is no place for the faint hearted.
Thunderous sounds and heavy collisions are a common occurrence as chairs clash together when players compete for the ball.
The contact is not usually intentional or brutal, but Scolari has endured two serious injuries while competing at the national tournament over the past decade.
“In 2009, I fractured my shoulder playing rugby,” says Scolari who is the Wasps’ captain.
“Someone clipped my back wheel when they tried to block me and they tipped my chair.
To minimise the chances of such injuries, Scolari has had his wheelchair reinforced with steel guards to make it more stable.
The guards were once painted jet back, but are now covered with scratches – silver scars from repeated collisions with opposition players.
Scolari says he is motivated to bring back silverware from this year’s carnival for the first time in his state career.
“The team has been in a rebuilding process since 2006,” he says.
“A lot of experienced players retired around then but this year we have a really strong team.
“I’ve played in one grand final in nine years and we lost – I need to win one before I retire.”
Scolari will be the most experienced Wasp this year, having played five more national tournaments than the next most experienced player.
He says his leadership skills will be more beneficial to the WA team than his actual playing ability.
“I am not a standout player,” he says.
“I am more of a team player.
“I like to be an instructor.”
Scolari says he will keep playing until he physically can not any more.
National Electric Wheelchair Sport organiser Eileen Baptiste says he will be recognised at this year’s tournament.
“Kyle will be awarded with a 10-year pin at this year’s Sydney event,” Ms Baptiste says.
“[There] is great motivation for athletes to strive for this award.
“Kyle Scolari is certainly a great athlete for national electric wheelchair sports.”
Scolari and the Western Wasps’ quest for national success starts on April 21 at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation.