LCpl Netra Rana, a Gurkha rifleman who sustained multiple injuries in an IED explosion in Afghanistan, has been selected to compete for a position in the Team GB Sitting Volleyball Squad.
Netra of 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, has been training with the squad for several months after the team’s coach saw him play for the MOD's Battle Back team for wounded, injured and sick personnel.
“I used to play volleyball back in my village in Nepal, but hadn’t played since then until I was offered the opportunity at [the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Unit] Headley Court as part of my rehab, and it went from there. The Great Britain coach saw me play in a good tournament in Canterbury and asked me to join the team.
“It’s been busy training, but I enjoy my sport, and now I’m just trying my best to get in the squad and be part of the team representing Great Britain,” said Netra, who was knocked unconscious for two days when his vehicle hit an IED south of Kandahar on the 21st of January 2008.
'Lucky to be alive'
The blast injured all three soldiers in the vehicle, but thankfully nobody was killed. When Netra regained consciousness back in the UK his left leg had been amputated below the knee, and his body was suffering from multiple wounds to his right leg and lower back, where two discs had fused.
“When I came round I got a glance at my body and could see my left leg was already gone, and the right one was all in bandages. All I could think was, yes I was unlucky to get injured, but I am lucky to be alive.”
Netra, who can walk for half an hour with the use of a prosthetic leg before his ‘good’ leg causes him too much pain, has found the camaraderie of volleyball an excellent tool in his rehabilitation process.
“At Headley Court we are encouraged in sport and I decided to have a go at the sitting volleyball, which has been a big part of my recovery. Its good rehab and has helped me make friends with other people with the same injuries. So yes, it’s unlucky to have the injuries I do, but I am looking forward to the opportunity to compete in the Paralympics. It’s a once in a lifetime event.
“I have to be good to make it into the team though, not just at volleyball but in my gym work too. But I enjoy the training.”
Netra is the Libero player in the sitting volleyball squad, a position that is new to the Paralympic play, as a specialist defender. The final decision on the squad will be made in the coming months.