When former Ability Centre customer Chris Barty, joined a fledgling soccer team for people with a physical disability in 2010 he had no idea it would give him the opportunity to travel the world. Living with spastic diplegia, Chris couldn’t last more than 15 minutes on the field when he began training with two others for the WA 7-A-Side Paralympic Football Team. Today it’s a completely different story.
“I was apprehensive at first, because my CP mostly effects my legs but playing football directly engages all the skills you need to develop if you are living with a physical disability – you use all four limbs, you practise your balance and co-ordination and obviously improve your physical fitness.”
“Through playing football regularly, I improved my skills and fitness gradually over time and have been fortunate to be part of the WA State team and the Australian National Paralympic Team, the Pararoos.”
“It’s also given me the opportunity to play in able-bodied competition in the Sunday social leagues, which was a goal of mine growing up.”
“The WA Paralympic Football program has a wide range of abilities and ages and everyone is welcome – we’d also love to have some more girls in the program. I think people feel like they have to be Ronaldo or Sam Kerr to get started, but the truth is you just need a pair of sneakers.”
Team member Levi Saunders plays as a left back and also can’t believe he has had the opportunity to represent WA at a national level. “I love playing football but I am also really proud that it gives me the opportunity to help younger people with disabilities to strive hard, build their confidence and not back down with things they want to do.”
The group trains on Saturday mornings at Yokine Reserve and would love to hear from anyone living with a physical disability interested in playing soccer. No experience necessary!
If you are interested in finding out more, contact the coach Mick Owens – 0415 678 669.