'Royal' treatment

Former referee injured in car accident gets JFF support; vows he'll walk again

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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Hope springs eternal for Dwight Royal.

The former FIFA referee, who boasts tremendous willpower, remains determined to show the red card to paralysis and get back on his feet.

Royal, a St Elizabeth native, suffered serious injuries after being involved in a motor vehicle accident on November 21 last year, which left him paralysed.

Reports were that Royal, the head of the Physical Education Department at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS), was driving out of a gas station across the road from the school shortly after midday when the incident happened.

It is alleged Royal's car was hit by a speeding vehicle travelling easterly from the centre of Santa Cruz and he was reportedly trapped inside the crushed car, before eventually being rescued and rushed to hospital by ambulance after parts of the wreck were cut away.

Six months on, Royal has been steadily improving in his rehabilitation process at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre (SJGRC), formerly the Mona Rehabilitation Centre, as he has now regained the use of his arms.

With that progress being a good indicator, the 42-year-old father of two is determined to walk again, as he refuses to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

He is unwavering in his commitment to continue his thrust for his family's sake.

“The possibilities are great and I am just being strong for myself and family and friends, so I have to just keep the faith. The process has been tremendous so far because I am seeing vast improvement in terms of upward mobility and strength.

“In terms of below the waist, I am not feeling anything yet, but I am optimistic that it will happen soon. So I am just being faithful and trusting in God knowing that I am going to walk again soon and that is the driving force,” Royal told the Jamaica Observer yesterday during a visit to the Centre where members of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) stopped by to make a presentation.

“Many persons have contributed to my healing process and I thank them all for what they have done. I also thank the JFF for this gesture and other persons who have contributed in a tangible way. I am grateful for those who continue to assist in my healing process,” he added.

Such is the drive of Royal that should his rehabilitation process slow, his next move would be to seek overseas assistance, and that trip to Cuba would cost an estimated $6 million.

“I am here now and if I am not walking soon, then the plan is to go overseas. So wherever it takes me overseas I will take it from there,” he declared.

Presently, Royal only gets to see his kids for a few hours each week. However, he is eager to get home so he can spend quality time with them.

His daughter Roshaune, 21, and her younger brother Derjean, have been a tower of strength for their father.

And given her faith as a member of the Seventh Day Adventist community, Roshaune is highly optimistic.

“I am very optimistic about his recovery because at one point he couldn't move his hands and now he is doing that. So that is a good sign and we are looking forward to more improvement as we continue to trust in God and pray for him,” she told the Observer.

“I am really pleased about this assistance from JFF because he has been a part of the (referee) association for so many years and it is really great that they see it fit to give back to those who have been involved in Jamaica's football and I believe this is another positive step in his recovery process,” Roshaune added.

Royal's almost teary-eyed father Hylton Royal was overwhelmed with emotions following the gesture of a wheelchair and a 40-inch television set from JFF.

“I feel very grateful about this because I didn't expect this, because it has been a while and I haven't seen anybody turn up, so I was wondering if they have forgotten about him. So now that they have shown up my spirit feels good and I appreciate everybody who continues to assist by doing what they are doing,” Hylton said while fighting back tears.

Josan Sutherland, one of the senior physiotherapists at the Centre, shared with the Observer her joy of working with Royal through the rehabilitation process.

“From the first day I met him a few months ago his personality and his spirit have always been so warm and engaging and he always wants to try. So at this point we are just working with what we see and trying to maximise on that and if and when more recovery comes, we will be here to support him,” Sutherland shared.

Meanwhile, JFF president Michael Ricketts said the gesture was a no-brainer and just a small token to show their appreciation to Royal for his service to Jamaica's football.

“Dwight Royal's welfare is certainly our concern and the JFF and board of directors decided that we will make life a little happier for him, especially with the World Cup around the corner and, of course, because he needs all the support and prayers he can get,” Ricketts stated.

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