This amazing video shows the moment a talented rugby player became the first ever blind person to score a kick conversion in an official match.
James King, 23, said he knew he had made the historic kick when he heard his Leeds Rhinos teammates ‘go wild’ behind him in celebration.
James, who plays in the in the Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL), has macular dystrophy which is a rare genetic eye disorder that causes vision loss.
The speedy winger was given a chance to take the kick on Sunday (Sep 19) during a 34-22 victory over the Warrington Wire on the final day of the season.
The Rhinos season-ticket holder said he was ‘shocked and nervous’ and had to count the exact steps needed to cleanly strike the shot.
But he was elated when he heard his teammates screaming and shouting behind him.
Leeds Rhinos Foundation said the kick, thought to be the first of its kind in the PDRL, was as ‘a special moment enjoyed by the whole team’ in a celebratory tweet.
The club’s first team kicker Rhyse Martin replied: “Awesome kick.”
Last Leg host and Warrington Woves PDRL player Adam Hills wrote: “Well this is pretty amazing”.
James said: “I was shocked when I was asked to take the kick as I’d never done it in a match before.
“I had been practising the shot in training, but I was so nervous to step up as there is so much pressure.
“I knew it had gone in when I head everyone going wild behind me, screaming and shouting.
“I was pretty happy as it was a special moment I won’t ever forget.”
James, an archaeology student, always dreamt of playing for his hometown club.
But when he lost his sight, he said his confidence and his dream were ‘completely shattered’.
In 2018 he told a mate that he would have loved to don the famous blue and amber jersey – and just a year later he was introduced to the PDRL.
The side, which plays in a six-team league, has players with disabilities such as brain injuries, missing limbs and conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.
James added: “Growing up as a massive fan, I wanted to be a rugby league player.
“But when I lost my sight, my confidence went completely.
“I never expected anything like this to happen to me. The league has completely changed my life.
“It gave me a new lease of life and a new confidence.
“I feel like I can do whatever I set my mind to do, and I feel like a different person.
“I’m just enjoying every day, every training session, every match.
“I have been a season ticket holder for as long as I can remember, my family are all lifelong fans.
“To be a part of the Leeds Rhinos and to put on the kit is the stuff of dreams.
“As a kid I thought it would be mental if I could play for them.”
James suddenly lost his vision when he was 12 when we began to struggle to read the whiteboard at school.
His parents thought he needed glasses but further tests revealed he had the rare genetic condition.
Soon after, he lost the ability to read and is now severely sight impaired and currently has no central vision and limited peripheral sight.
James had to learn how to read brail and use a white cane to walk, but said he was grateful he lost his vision as a kid as it was ‘easier to pick things up’.
James said: “It happened all of a sudden and it was quite chaotic.
“I had no clue what was happening to me, but I was always at the doctors and going to support groups.
“It was a shock and challenging at first as I had to learn brail, how to touch type and how to use a white cane.”
James said he has been left in the dark on how he was diagnosed as no one in his family has the condition.
He officially joined the Leeds Rhinos PDRL team in May 2019, and after a couple months of training he made his debut for the club in front of 8,000 rapturous fans.
During the half-time break of a Super League match in July that year, he played in a victorious exhibition game at the The Mend-A-Hose Jungle stadium in Castleford.
James said: “It was unbelievable. I can barely remember the match.
“It felt like a dream realised when I set foot on the pitch of an actual rugby league stadium.
“I remember standing in the tunnel waiting to come out, and I was shaking so much.
“When we walked out and heard the entire stadium buzzing, it was just a dream come true.”
James wears the number 9 after his favourite player Kruise Leeming.
Due to his condition, he said weather is a massive influence on how he plays as he had to avoid patches of sun.
As there are a number of blind players on the team, James said they are the ‘loudest lot’ as they have to constantly scream at each other.
James said: “I’m quite quick so I like to float around the field.
“But if the sun is in my eyes I’m completely gone.
“We need to be super vocal so we are probably the loudest team in the league.
“But it’s nice because we have so many different disabilities, we try to adapt and make everyone feel included.”