Wheel Blacks take up taiko challenge in Japan

We talk to Wheel Black Cody Everson about playing wheelchair rugby in Japan and learning about and having a go at taiko drumming. The team travelled to Japan late last year for the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships staying in host city Atsugi. They were supported to include cultural activities in their itinerary by a Foundation Community Sports Grant.
Cody meeting a guy on a neon-lit street

During the trip the team got to spend some time in Tokyo and check out the sights

What position do you play?

I play a low point roll in the team, which means I’m a defender. My classification is a 1.0, the highest classification eligible to play is a 3.5, it all depends on your function and I have a lot less function than others.

Have you been to Japan before?

It was my third time to Japan. I went in 2014 and again in 2015. We played in Chiba Prefecture but didn’t see too much as it was all about the games. This time in Japan was great as we got to experience the culture, which I loved.

What was it like playing in Japan?

It was great playing in Japan. The supporters there were super loud and really enthusiastic. They love wheelchair rugby, and they do everything on a grand scale; the stadium we played in was amazing. New Zealand is a bit more chilled out and a more relaxed environment.

The team did okay. We struggled against the top teams in the world, but we beat Brazil who are ranked ahead of us in the world rankings.

Two Wheel Blacks surrounded by Australian players

Wheelchair rugby is a highly physical game where players can expect to take some hard knocks

Tell us about taiko drumming

The taiko drumming was a pretty humbling experience. I really liked how they embraced us and they were so open to teaching us the meanings behind the drumming.

They also had a lot of patience as it took us a bit of time to get the swing of it. I wasn’t very good at drumming, but I absolutely loved giving it a go and had lots of fun.

It gave me an insight into Japanese culture, knowing it has been passed down for generations is pretty cool. There is so much history behind it. 

I think its definitely a good idea for sports people to get an understanding of the culture of the country they're travelling to. We should all really embrace it – we are extremely lucky to travel there; a lot of people will never get to do this.


A line of Wheel Blacks practising taiko drumming

Cody: "It gave me an insight into Japanese culture, knowing it has been passed down for generations is pretty cool."

What was the highlight of your time in Japan?

My highlights in Japan… there was just so much; I love it there. Being in Atsugi a week prior to the tournament was pretty sweet. They were amazing hosts who made us feel so welcome, so I'd say that was my highlight. 

Japanese culture intrigues me, so going there was always on my bucket list. I can’t wait to go back again and learn more about their culture.