With funding secured for the Australian Pararoos to compete in the World Championships later this month, former Socceroo Mark Bresciano is now urging the public to support fundraising efforts to help the team qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
The Pararoos, the national football team for players with central palsy, acquired brain injury or symptoms resulting from a stroke, are ranked 12th in the world by the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association and have not reached a Paralympic Games since the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.
Bresciano, who played for the Olyroos at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and was capped 84 times for the Socceroos, said it was important funding for the Pararoos was maintained.
“Without funding, the Pararoos will be unable to continue their program towards the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio and will eventually be forced from the football field entirely,” he said.
“Without the Pararoos, Aussie footballers with a disability will be forced to give up the sport they love and give up their sporting dreams. I want the Pararoos to succeed. I want the Pararoos to be the future for all Aussie footballers with a disability.
“Everyone can donate to the Pararoos, businesses, sponsors, football fans and everyday Australians. Donating to the Pararoos will not only help the team get to Rio but it will also encourage many aspiring disabled footballers to strive for their dreams,” he added.
ASF Chief Executive Patrick Walker echoed Bresciano’s comments.
“It was a devastating blow to the players when their funding was cut, and we now need to maintain the momentum and provide a clear pathway for them,” said Mr Walker.
“They are off to the World Championship, but we now are aiming to help them qualify for the Rio Paralympics next year.”