Inclusion through sport

Tyler, far left, playing football with the Geelong Dragons. (Supplied)

Lives of people living with disability in Geelong are being transformed thanks to sporting teams.

Tyler, supported by Leisure Networks, started playing with the Geelong Dragons football club six years ago and now participates in the Kardinia Park All Abilities Football Netball League (FNL).

He said he would take to the Kardinia Park field in his Geelong West Giants jersey during round one of the All Abilities FNL on April 27.

“It’s exciting and we’ll hopefully play in front of a decent crowd, but I’m just looking forward to playing with my teammates again,” he said.

“(Football) does improve your confidence…and I know my parents are still around, and they’re still there to help, but I’m more confident just to hang out, outside home.”

Mum Christine said her son had made a lot of progress while playing football and that it meant more than just playing sport.

“He has the strategies there and he keeps building on it. So, he’s happier to give things a go and take a bit more responsibility,” she said.

“I’m more confident that he will know how to deal with that and know what he needs to do, just from being more involved around the club with teammates.”

Leisure Networks chief executive David Meade said sports were important for people of all ages living with a disability.

“Lots of younger people living with disability are involved in junior sports, up until about 12, toward the end of primary school and as they become teenagers,” he said.

“We have been actively working to curb this trend through different programs and supporting local sporting clubs to build capacity for inclusion of all abilities teams.”