It’s only been ten weeks since Brisbane Roar began the Roar Possibility Program but the participants will be reaping the benefits for much, much longer.
It-s only been ten weeks since Brisbane Roar began the Roar Possibility Program but the participants will be reaping the benefits for much, much longer.
In conjunction with disability support organisation Multicap, the club launched the Roar Possibility Program in March with disability football specialist Jay Larkins appointed to manage the program within the Brisbane Roar-s community football department.
The Roar Possibility Program has 20 participants, ranging in age from 11-year-olds to adults with varying levels of mental and physical disabilities, each with their own story about how they-ve learnt to enjoy the round ball game.
“They just love it,” Larkins said.
“Even those most severely affected are getting to the stage where they want to come and be active.
“One young 14-year-old we have is severely affected by autism and it took him eight weeks just to feel comfortable enough to come down onto the field.
“Now, he comes down as soon as the inflatable field goes up - that was a massive, massive deal for us.
“We had to work quite hard with Emma, who has CP, and Brooke [Spence, Brisbane Roar Women player] did such a great job with her - now she loves it and has even bought her own boots.
“Chris, another athlete with severe autism, now has had four different Possibility Program coaches working with him and that was a big thing for him, interacting with more and more people.
“Sean is one of our athletes who is vision-impaired so we have a ball especially for him with a bell in it.
“When he first arrived, he didn-t want to be physical because he didn-t feel safe but now he-s running 100 metres and kicking the ball and chasing it.”
Larkins and his dedicated coaches spend 90 minutes with their athletes every week at the Multicap grounds as part of the 40-week program and it-s clear to see there are benefits for everyone involved - from the athletes, their parents and carers and even the coaches themselves.
Brisbane Roar has also included a season membership in each registration for the Roar Possibility Program, for the athlete and their carer or family member.
“If a parent wants to get involved, I team them up with an athlete that-s not their child,” Larkins said.
“It opens their eyes a little bit and they can understand what other parents, who may have children with another disability, go through on a daily basis.
“It-s great for the coaches too - modifying the drills that the Roar Active Program work with for Roar Possibility Program shows they-ve got a skill set across both programs now.”
And, even in its early stages, Brisbane Roar Community Football Manager Andy Pinches says the program is already a success.
“When we started the Roar Possibility Program, our aim was to integrate our participants into a football club, whether it was as a player, official, or even just helping out at the canteen,” he said.
“We-ve already had four athletes join Westlake Football Club under Jay-s care so that-s very pleasing to see.”
The Roar Possibility Program is running so well that Pinches said there have been talks with Multicap about possibly expanding the program to the Gold Coast and other places in Queensland in the future.