The Brain Foundation, together with the Kavallieri Rugby Football Club are organising an event to recruit new rugby players who have any intellectual and physical impairments.

This newsroom spoke to the President of The Brain Foundation, who is also the head coach of the Warriors Team, Chev. Marco Ortica, to find out more about the event that is taking place on Sunday.

Ortica said that many of the events and activities they organise are delivered through an approach he strongly believes in, referred to as the Marqos Method.

He explained that, through this method, together with the core values of the rugby sport, “we help athletes approach their life in a different manner and teach them to become independent individuals. We also aim to offer equal opportunities to our athletes and allow them to choose their own way in life.”

Ortica considers rugby as the parable of life because the core values that are taught to the athletes are not only taught for the sake of the game but also to be applied in everyday life. 

He explained that these people are a vital resource to this country and should never be considered or seen as a burden or problem. Rather, through this sport “we can bring out the best in our athletes.”

Asked what the athletes will gain by attending these rugby sessions and why they should even consider joining the team, Ortica said: “we are fully dedicated to our athletes, especially youngsters who have specific abilities. For this very reason, within the Kavallieri Rugby Football Club we internally developed a new team called ‘Warriors’ where the Marqos Method is used.”

“During the sessions athletes will encounter an environment which is challenging but safe. A place where people can interact with one another, build strong, lifetime relationships and gain a considerable degree of independence and a confident attitude towards doing things in life. From a social point of view, this activity will be useful during their development age but also at a later stage as young adults. Ultimately, these athletes will also learn how to play rugby in a safe but fun way.”

Once recruited, the players will have sessions which are held once a week on Thursdays from 6:45pm to 8:00pm at Santa Lucija football ground. The team is also weighing the possibility of organising a second session during the week, but this will depend on other factors. On a monthly basis, a Rugby Festival, which is an internal tournament, will be held to observe the progress of the athletes.

During the event on Sunday, “the people attending will have the opportunity to experience some fun activities in order for us to observe their abilities when working in small groups. A short tournament will also be organised to identify whether the athletes taking part have the ability to follow basic rules such as throwing the ball from the ground,” Ortiga said.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic stopped many events during 2020, many activities related to the Marqos Method were organised following all protocols and guidelines issued by the health authorities.

Ortica mentioned the residents at Dar tal-Providenza and at Agenzija Sapport who on a weekly basis are performing rugby sessions and have made great steps forward.

The number of people who are interested in this kind of activity is increasing, therefore the time is ripe to organise this event, Ortica remarked.

Speaking in more depth about the Marqos Method, Ortica explained that this approach is a procedure developed by The Brain Foundation. It is based on methods and teaching techniques which aim to improve communication as well as the development of physical and intellectual activity.

Through this, they are able to facilitate the learning of a sport discipline, particularly but not exclusively, of rugby, in order to obtain a result in terms of work, behaviour, attitude and social relationships. This technique is offered mainly in environments with athletes who have a physical and mental disability which pays particular attention to psycho-motor development.

Ortica clarified that any players who are interested in attending the event do not need to have any previous experience in order to start the program. Former sport experience will always be an added bonus but since the approach is completely different, previous experience is not necessary.

Ortica reiterated that rugby can be very beneficial and helpful to people with physical and mental disabilities.

“Rugby is a tool which allows us to develop and build what is referred to as a ‘living approach.’ This entails offering the opportunity to our athletes to experience the rules which we face in our everyday life through rugby and establish a greater awareness and comprehension of these dynamics,” Ortica said.

He explained that this will lead athletes to understand that the ball, in the same way as life, has its strange rebounds at times, but we have to be ready to grasp it and bring the ball to its destination, the same way we handle our challenges and difficulties in life.

“Not being afraid of the ball is a very important factor in this activity as not to fear the ball means not to fear facing, new, difficult or strange situations but instead learn how to accept and handle them to one’s advantage.”

Ortica added that to learn how to handle social relations and how to achieve a good psycho-motor coordination are two elements which are given a lot of importance and attention to.

Once recruited, all information will be given personally to athletes or parents/guardians interested to be registered with the club as a Warrior rugby player.

The event will be held on the 8 November at the Marsa Rugby Grounds from 9:00 till 12:00 and will adhere to all health protocols and guidelines issued by the health authorities.