Media releases

June 22, 2014

Soccer fever gets vision impaired kids moving

A program that is getting vision impaired children active and providing them with important sports skills, will expand to more locations across Melbourne, thanks to a community grant from the Medibank Community Fund (MCF).

The $10,000 community grant will extend Blind Sports Victoria's Vision Impaired MiniRoos football program beyond its Preston location to other parts of Melbourne and into Bendigo.

The program is supported by Melbourne City FC who in late 2013 provided participants of the program opportunity to show their skills during half time at an A League fixture game. The MCF community grant will allow Blind Sports Victoria to develop this relationship further.

Victorian State Retail Manager Mark O'Shaughnessy said the program embraced the MCF's priorities of promoting physical activity and greater community connectedness - the key selection criteria for the MCF grants program.

"Through this program Blind Sports Victoria is doing a wonderful job of promoting physical activity amongst a group of children who traditionally are faced with barriers to being active," Mr O'Shaughnessy said

"This program is the first of its kind in Australia and is providing opportunities for blind and vision impaired children and their families to be a part of a great sport, while promoting physically active through sport and recreation.

"The MCF grants program supports local, grassroots initiatives that aim to create a lasting and positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of people in the community and Blind Sports Victoria and its MiniRoos program is doing just that".

Blind Sports Victoria's President, Maurice Gleeson OAM said the Vision Impaired MiniRoos program encouraged skills development through use of adaptive equipment, including audible balls containing ball bearings.

"By participating alongside sighted players at local clubs, vision impaired children become more connected to their community, gaining confidence and new skills," Mr Gleeson said.

"Through our programs blind and vision impaired children are given the opportunity to play and excel in a team sport environment, make new friends, build endurance, resilience and self-esteem and connect with and learn from Melbourne FC players".

Blind Sports Victoria is one of 42 recipients chosen from more than 900 applications across Australia and New Zealand to receive a 2014 Medibank Community Fund grant.

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