#5 – Understanding for the injured in Jordan thanks to participation in Invictus Games

She has a higher purpose. Participation in the Invictus Games does not only bring great benefits to the Jordanian military, it also considerably increases the understanding of disabled people in the Arab world. Rula Beik Amro: “The Invictus Games have great meaning.”

By Edward Swier

The Jordanian delegation was at the Invictus Games of 2016 in Orlando for the first time. In Toronto and Sydney there was also a delegation of the Jordanian Armed Forces, an army with no fewer than 110,000 members led by the king of Jordan, Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein. 20 psychically injured participants will be coming to The Hague. “We are all looking forward to the trip to the Netherlands. No one in our team has ever been there. It will be a great experience for all of us. We look forward to the attention we will get, to the competition, to the opportunity to achieve our goals and to the encounters with others.”

The only woman and team captain
It will be Rula Beik Amro’s first Invictus Games. “As Jordan we choose to send a mix of veterans and newcomers each time. It is important that the experienced support the young people. And that we inspire each other.” She is sure that the Invictus Games will be a great adventure. Rula is the only woman in the Jordanian team, and on top of that is also a team captain. “I expect to be pampered from all sides,” she laughs. “It’s an honor. It was already an honor when I knew I could go. But as a team captain the honor is only greater. I have also learned a lot from being a captain. You arrange things, you speak to many people. Your teammates too. Then you also find out what people with disabilities need.”

Setting an example for others
Personally, Rula has a spinal cord injury, paraplegia. Caused by an attack by terrorist in 2005. The terrorists attacked some hotels in Amman, Rula was attending a wedding there. Her classification is C5, her injury affects her arms and shoulders. That does not make it easy to participate in rowing. Nevertheless, she has, among other things, registered for it. “There are people within our team with worst paraplegia, but I really have to make an enormous effort not to be left behind. I don’t want to be the team’s turtle besides the team captain.” The lieutenant colonel wants to be an example for others. She is a board member of the committee
that works for soldiers who have been injured during their service. “As the Jordanian Invictus team we also have an exemplary role, we hope to appeal to more soldiers and veterans. We would like to teach them something about parasport, about the importance of moving if you have an injury. So, it’s not just about the event itself, but also about raising awareness for others. It is important that people in our country, both within and outside the army, also get something out of this.”

The importance of sports
The Invictus Games have contributed to a positive image of parasport in Jordan. “We really see that it is progressing, that the subject has become talkable. People with injuries from the war, with disabilities, have always had a hard time being active in the community. Now, the confidence to reintegrate has become much bigger.” She says she benefits greatly from sports. And she likes to propagate that, not only in the field and in the army, but also beyond that. “When I did my master in university, I wrote a dissertation about people with a spinal cord injury, paraplegia. It included the quality of life for people with this injury, amongst others. I explicitly mentioned how important sports is. Sports largely determine the functioning of people with paraplegia. Their quality of life increases when they train well, it promotes their health. The healthier you get the more involved you are. I would like to inspire people to move on, to stay busy, to be up and running again. That is not just a message for my teammates, or the other people in the army, but actually for an entire nation.”

The ultimate goal
“In the Arab world there are still a lot of prejudices about disability. There is shame. By participating in an internationally renowned event such as the Invictus Games, you grow not only with family and friends, but also with the people of a country. This happens beforehand already, but especially during the tournament, we will communicate a lot, with each other, but also with athletes from other countries. And when we return to Jordan in mid-May, we will have to continue to do so. We don’t have to stay inside. Leave your house, participate in a competition, go outside, enjoy life, enjoy your work, enjoy your sport. Don’t be ashamed. Keep going, stay involved. Sure, you can fall back on your family and friends, but don’t become dependent on it, do things yourself. That is also the ultimate goal of the Invictus Games for us.”

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