Thirty-two-year-old Kazakhstan setter Erik Kaskabayev started playing Sitting Volleyball in 2002 when he was 16. The coach of the local club of Kyzylordq City invited him to play, marking the debut of his international sport career three years later. Erik is very grateful for Sitting Volleyball as it offered him a second chance in life.
In 1993 on his way back home after a school day, Erik – seven year’s old at the time – was hit by a train and lost both his legs. “I crossed the railway line without paying attention at the train which was arriving,” he said after leading Kazakstan to a 3-0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-19) pool play win over Myanmar at the 2018 Asian Para Games. “When I was younger, I had a lot of behavioural problems, creating trouble and lacking discipline.”
Today, a husband and father of four, he works as an IT engineer.
“Sitting Volleyball is my second life. It has not only allowed me to travel, discover new countries and cities, meet new friends with health issues and physical impairments. Most importantly, it helped me going back on the right track, being more disciplined and focused.”
Erik describes the sport as extremely demanding physically, mentally and strategically. As a setter, he always strives to put his teammates in the best position to challenge their opponents and score a point. He has this team spirit which makes him a positive and natural leader.
Participating in the Paralympics before retiring as a player represents his ultimate objective after he and his teammates won the bronze medal at the Youth ParaVolley World Championships in 2009.
“This medal was my best moment ever. I would love to live this emotion again at the Paralympics before transitioning into a coaching career and empower young players through Sitting Volleyball. Being active, playing sport, having fun is the best way to overcome life challenges.”
After helping the Kazakhstan Men’s Sitting Volleyball team win their first ever Asian Para Games medal (bronze), things are definitely looking bright for Erik’s Paralympic hopes.
You can follow Erik on the NPC Kazakhstan Instagram account: kazparalympic
Photo 1: Erik Kaskabayev is the second most experience player in the Kazakhstan Men’s Sitting Volleyball team