The world game was open to all last weekend as the Special Olympics Limestone Coast All Abilities Soccer Corporate Games were played at Hastings Cunningham Reserve on Saturday when the state’s best came to town.
Many players had the time of their lives scoring goals across a four-hour period which brought together a wide and diverse community together.
The highlight of the day was the presence of some of the state’s Special Olympics representatives.
Headlining the on pitch action were “soccer extraordinaries” Noah Schumacher and Ella Cox, plus local Courtney Brown, who is preparing for her debut at the event.
One man who has no shortage of Special Olympics experience is Shaun Austin, who was also passing on his wisdom from many years representing the state.
The organiser of these much-loved games is Keith Seller, who said it all started from a silly conversation, but has grown to be an event supported by seven different organisations and companies such as Steeline and the Police.
“These games were initiated through a bit of banter at my work where some of the girls said ‘we can kick a soccer ball around’ so I said ‘why do not you come out and challenge us’,” he said.
“So it has grown from 2021 to this point where we have a major sponsor in Wedaworks which has allowed us to have a program over six years.
“I am taking the soccer program into country South Australia to connect athletes with people with disabilities in this area.
“There were so many smiles from all participants.”
The games aimed at enjoyment and participation played were like what is seen on TV under normal but on a smaller scale with five-a-side teams and smaller sized pitch and goals.
Off the pitch a raffle and barbecue was held where all proceeds helped fund the South Australian team
Sellar said the day has gone from strength to strength.
“Its all about fun and enjoyment,” he said.
“Last year there was 20 players and this year we have had around 30.
“We want to continue to grow and hopefully we can do it again next year.”
Sellar said events like this are key parts to the preparation required for the upcoming Special Olympics which are held in Tasmania in October this year.
“We are training and in soccer we just have to maintain our fitness level, skill level and teamwork together.
“It is all happening together and the big games are being held in Launceston in October and they are mirrored on the Olympics with similar sports and format.”