There’s no better feeling than playing sport alongside a family member.
But for Craig Cannane and his 19-year-old son Cory, their experience playing together transcends on a deeper meaning to what anyone else could even understand.
Craig and Cory play alongside each other in the NSW Wheelchair Rugby League competition, winning numerous competitions with their beloved St. George-Illawarra Dragons.
“There’s nothing better than playing alongside my son and it shines through both of us,” Craig said.
“We’ve been very close, my son and I. We played wheelchair basketball together and then I bought him over to wheelchair rugby league and we are really enjoying it.”
Now 42 years of age, Craig tragically broke his neck in a motorbike accident at 19, and has since been in a wheelchair.
“I played rugby league before my accident and I thought I’d never play rugby league again,” Craig said. “When wheelchair rugby league came along I jumped at the opportunity.
“To think I was never going to play again, having played from eight to the year of my accident (19), I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
In a moving gesture, Cory – who doesn’t have a disability – decided to join his father to play, and they haven’t looked back since.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” Craig said. “Now that my son is a young adult, it’s really something special.”
While everyone shares a deep sympathy for Alex McKinnon who is still recovering from his tragic injury, Craig is empathetic and knows it will make Alex stronger.
“I can relate to what Alex is going through,” Craig said. “It’s such a big change. It impacts not only yourself but the entire family.
“It changes your perspective on life. It will make him stronger even though it’s not what he had before. But it doesn’t happen over night. He was strong willed before and he’ll be a stronger person for it.”
Similarly, Craig was blessed to have a loving family behind him. His then girlfriend stuck by him and they are now happily married with two kids.
While many would understand his disappointment, Craig is inspired by his experience and is motivated to share his life lessons, publicly speaking regularly ever since his accident.
Craig knows the ability of turning adversity into something positive, and his story is testament to the amount of support he received during a difficult period.
“I haven’t lost any friends along the way,” Craig said. “If anything I’ve met more people and made more friends.”
This article first appeared on NSWRL