Creating opportunity for those with disability is at the forefront of the Mandurah Mustangs’ drive to launch an integrated football team this season.
The Mustangs are the latest club to join the WA Amateur Football League’s (WAAFL) integrated competition, becoming the program’s 10th side after signing up for the 2019 season.
The competition offers those living with intellectual disabilities the chance to play competitive football, with games made up of 15-minute quarters played each weekend throughout the season.
Spearheading the efforts behind the Mustangs’ new venture is team coordinator Jamie Hunter, who pitched the idea to the committee in the hopes of providing more pathways for people with disability.
Hunter, who has worked in the disabilities field for almost 10 years, said the team would help “bridge the participation gap” in local footy.
“This is something that’s been lacking in Mandurah for some time – there’s always been a gap there,” he said.
“There were no programs of any kind for people with disability to play footy so getting one off the ground is something I’ve been passionate about for a while now.”
After being embraced by the Mustangs the initiative then gained the support of local disability service Midway Community Care, and has since fielded a great response from the community with 14 players signing up at their registration day on Sunday.
Hunter said the response had been overwhelming.
“We had more people at our registration day than some get at the junior sign up days, so to see everyone come down and throw their support behind it has been pretty special,” he said.
“Also to have businesses and community groups come on board is huge – we gained a valuable sponsor from Mader Group which will go a long way to getting the team off the ground.”
The new integrated team is a mixed gender side for players aged 16-or-above, but Hunter said the group also hoped to launch a Star Kick program for younger players.
“This whole drive is about including as many people as possible, so in the coming years we’re hoping to get something off the ground for people under 16-years-old living with disability,” he said.
“Eventually that would help out the numbers in the older group and players can sort of progress through it as a pathway.
“This is our dream and we are going to achieve this for people with disabilities in Mandurah.”
For more information on the team visit the Mandurah Mustangs Integrated Football Team Facebook page or call Jamie Hunter on 0439 398 336.