About the project

Football can have a tremendous impact in bringing people together and breaking down some of the social constructs around disabilities and sport. Football has had, and continues to have the greatest positive impact on my life. This is my journey with football. I started playing football when I was 4 years old. From the first moment I put the boots on I was hooked. That was all I did, played, kicked, dribbled, passed, as long as I had a ball I was fine. I was a normal kid playing football on the weekends with my friends. I was most improved in my first season and most consistent in my next, because I loved it! Then on December 24th 1991, when I was 6, I slipped and fell from a cliff bush walking with my brother west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains. And it all changed. I spent Christmas and the New Year in a coma, and the first 3 weeks of January 1992, when I woke up, I couldn’t walk or talk. I was paralyzed on the right side of my body. The doctors told me I would never walk again. I remember looking at my mother and father wanting to talk and ask what happened and why, but I couldn’t. When I learnt to talk again my parents tell me that I asked them if I would be able to play soccer that year, they obviously said no. I spent the next year in hospital rehabilitating, seeing every therapist known to man. I spent four years away from football. I taught myself to walk, talk, write and to run again. I started again 4 years later when I was 11. It was by chance when I was 11 that my brother actually found an advertisement in the newspaper about AWD athletics. So I went along to a meet in Sydney. I did disabled athletics for four years and achieved success, but I didn’t enjoy it. I was a footballer, a team player, so an individual sport just was never going to cut it. Then, one evening my parents got a call, they were starting up a Cerebral Palsy Football team to eventually compete in the Paralympics in Sydney 2000. That was it, I never went to another athletics event again, because I’m a footballer. The first training session there were 7 of us, in an old dusty hall in the inner west of Sydney, and I was 13, and the love affair started all over again. I remember, we played a game, I scored twice and skinned a bloke twice my size. I signed up with my local club as soon as I could, I trained, played, kicked, dribbled, passed, as long as i had a ball, I was happy. Then I grew, and so did my confidence, self-image and in turn self-esteem. I was no longer the kid at school who had to wear a splint, or a cast, in the worst of times. I was a footballer, and an international one at that. Two years later I was in the Ukraine playing football for my country, then at the Paralympics Sydney 2000. I scored my first goal in our final match of the Paralympics in front of a 15000 strong hometown crowd. I have gone on to play 89 times for Australia, captained my country on over 30 occasions, Captained New South Wales to 10 out of the last 11 National Titles, and been on some of the most amazing tours to the strangest and wonderful destinations all over the globe. For 18 years I have been an international footballer, and if my body would let me, I’d do it for 18 more. For myself and my teammates, it is who we are, why we strive, why we challenge ourselves to do what we thought we would never be capable of.

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