Joe Burns is proof Oztag really is a game for everyone
Oztag prides itself on being a sport for everyone and 64-year old Joe Burns is proof of that.
Burns lost his left leg in a motorcycle accident when he was 17-years old but has never let his disability stop him from competing at almost every opportunity.
This weekend, he’s playing for Norwest in the Mens 55s division at the NSW Senior State Cup at Coffs Harbour.
“If I can play Oztag, anyone can play Oztag. It really is a game for everyone and it’s not like touch where its all about speed. It’s more like rugby league where you need to use skill and different parts of the game and that allows me to compete evenly against a lot of these guys,” Burns told Oztag Australia.
“You don’t need to be six foot tall or full of muscles, you don’t need to be super fast or have incredible skill, there is a spot for everyone on an Oztag field and that’s what I love about it.”
The former South Sydney rugby league player won five medals at four Paralympics including a gold medal at the 1984 New York games but didn’t play his first game of Oztag until three years ago, almost 15 years after he retired from competitive sport following the 2000 Sydney Paralympics.
“At 62, they needed an extra in an Oztag side so I thought I’d make a return. This is my third State Cup and I can still hold my own with most of them.”
Regardless of age, shape, gender or ability, Burns said he thought anyone that tried Oztag would immediately fall in love with the sport.
“No one treats you any differently and the beauty of it is, I’m a competitive guy and it gives me a chance to prove I can beat anyone else on the field every time I play,” he said.
“People look but no one cares, I’m just another player out here on the field and I’m just as competitive as anyone else.”