Vision impaired children across Melbourne will have more opportunities to participate in sports.

Isabel Phiilips (4) takes control of the ball as she and other vision impaired children participate.      Soccer Fever Strikes Vision Impaired Kids. 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 Medibank Community Fund.

For children with vision impairment, opportunities to participate in sport can be limited. Blind Sports Victoria strives to change that with the MiniRoos Vision Impaired soccer program, an inspiring initiative that gives vision impaired children the chance to get active and gain sporting skills – and sometimes even get up close and personal with their soccer heroes.

The program encourages skills development through use of adaptive equipment, including audible balls containing ball bearings. It is supported by the Melbourne FC, who in late 2013 gave participants the memorable opportunity to showcase their skills during half time at an A-League fixture game.

“By participating alongside sighted players at local clubs, vision impaired children become more connected to their community, gaining confidence and new skills,” says Blind Sports Victoria’s President, Maurice Gleeson OAM.

“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.”

Support from the Medibank Community Fund

The Medibank Community Fund awarded Blind Sports Victoria a $10,000 grant to help the program expand the beyond its Preston location to other parts of Melbourne and into Bendigo. The grant will also allow the organisation to further develop its relationship with the Melbourne Football Club.

“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,” says Medibank Victorian State Retail Manager Mark O’Shaughnessy.

“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.”

About Medibank Community Grants

The Medibank Community Fund Community Grants program operates in each Australian State and across New Zealand. It supports grassroots community programs that perform important roles in their local regions to encourage better health and wellbeing.

This year, 42 projects in Australia and New Zealand have been announced as the worthy recipients of 2014 Medibank Community Fund Community Grants.

Read more about the work of Blind Sports Victoria.

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