Ayaz talks about being born with a disability and being the only disabled person in the whole school. He wanted to do sport activities with his friends but was excluded from joining in due to fears about safety. One day, Ayaz decided to play football with his friends during break time and the teachers were shocked at how well he participated, which broke down many barriers.
Growing up with a disability and going through the school system was very tough for Ayaz as he had to have many corrective procedures at hospital which meant he missed a lot of school (he had to skip a whole class year to be with his own age group).
Ayaz went to college and suffered with depression, as he couldn't handle people staring at him in public due to his disability. After a struggle, Ayaz was introduced to Wheelchair Basketball which is a non-contact sport that he never really grasped - he got sent off most games. Bhuta was scouted by Wheelchair Rugby and immediately the physical elements of the game suited him. With being 3ft 7" tall and weighing 7st, he was bashed around in his first ever GB tournament and was told by the coach at the time that he would not have an international career in Wheelchair Rugby due to his size and weight. This triggered memories of his childhood when teachers were worried about his safety, so Ayaz decided to prove his coach and the Wheelchair Rugby community wrong.
Bhuta trained and developed a unique agile game, and a year later, in 2012, was selected for the GB development team to tour in Czech Republic - where he was named best player in position. Six months later he was called up to the GB Elite team where again he was voted best player in his position. Since then, Ayaz has won two European Gold medals, a European Bronze medal, a fans Most Valuable Player award at the World Championships and competed at his first ever Paralympics in Rio 2016.
Ayaz's story is about resilience and believing in yourself to achieve your dreams. All his life Ayaz has had to prove to people that he is good enough, and with hard work, you can show people you can do whatever you want in life. He is currently overcoming another problem where his sport Wheelchair Rugby has lost it's funding for Tokyo 2020 as it is believed they cannot medal at the next Paralympics. Challenge accepted.
"Ayaz was inspirational for pupils and staff. We have taken a lot from his visit and the children will definitely be doing some follow-up work on growth mindset, resilience and never giving up based on their experience with Ayaz. He was brilliant. Thank you for facilitating this."– Simon Blain, Deputy Headteacher, St Vincent's Catholic Primary School
"We booked Ayaz to deliver an input to our 2018 ‘Aspiration and Inclusion’ conference for school governors at Hampshire special and mainstream schools. Ayaz’s presentation was humbling, honest and very motivating to listen to. Ayaz’s presentation was very well received by our governor audience, and the word ‘inspirational’ consistently appeared on our feedback forms about his keynote presentation. Here are a few comments from our delegates:
‘Ayaz’s story was outstanding. It shows what a person is capable of with sheer determination.’
‘Ayaz’s story was inspirational. We should allow our students to believe that they can do anything.’
Ayaz Bhuta’s presentation was inspirational giving a different perspective to disability and the way he has dealt with the challenges it presented to him.’
Ayaz is an inspirational young man and I felt privileged to listen to him speak. Good luck for 2020!’"– Hampshire Governor Services
"Ayaz was very good. He spoke well and gave a message of resilience and positivity. Thanks for your help with facilitating it."– Mike Dore, Deputy Headteacher, Parrs Wood High School
"Thank you for attending our event, our students valued your presentation and your words of wisdom greatly and will remember this for a very long time. It was truly an eye opener to see the bigger picture and the aspirations that can be achieved by people with disabilities. Pupils later said that 'if Ayaz can do it so can we'. The impact on pupils was phenomenal and we would like you to come again once you have completed your training."– Irfan Umarji, Vice Principal, Tauheedul Islam Boys High School
"Ayaz is a friendly and charismatic speaker who engages excellently with a variety of audiences. As a successful Wheelchair Rugby player who competed at the Rio Paralympic Games and recently also became a European Champion for the second time, he has a great deal of experiences in elite sport to draw upon. His journey as an individual is particularly inspiring when considering the challenges he has had and his ability to speak well in front of a large group really brings this to life for others."– Alex Bailey, Performance Lifestyle Advisor, English Institute of Sport
"Ayaz is both dedicated and hard working with exceptional sporting talent. I have witnessed Ayaz grow as a player and as a person over the last few years. He is a consistent problem solver/decision maker and is both thoughtful and diligent when delivering his ideas. He is an important team member and someone you want in the trenches with you when times get tough but also someone to lighten the mood when times get tough. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Ayaz for any role as he is also a quick learner but also willing to challenge the norm"– Phil Zealey, Former Performance Scientist at Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, Founder of CleanandEazyPz
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