July 12, 2018

Disability & football can be a great match

Go Birdy, Go Vic Country, Go Dragons!

This was the catch cry on social media from the Geelong Dragons FIDA Football Club sending off player Anthony Bird this month to compete as part of the VIC Country team in the National Inclusion Carnival.

The VIC Country team came third and may have missed out on the Grand Final but they finished on a high with a win against QLD and for player Anthony, the win was more than football.

Anthony, a keen footballer, also has an intellectual disability. Encouraged by Gateways staff, Anthony joined the Geelong Dragons this year and went on to be selected for the Vic Country Team.  This month he travelled independently for the first time and participated in the National Inclusion Carnival in Tasmania.  He returned home with a greater confidence in himself and his abilities.

Gateways Accommodation Team Leader, Jodie Silverback asked Anthony to describe how he felt being part of the VIC Country Team and taking part in the carnival.

“I felt quite good. I did get nervous once I got to Tasmania.  I found out we were playing on an AFL sized ground called UTAS Stadium.

I had a great feeling of confidence and pride. The coaches and team helped each other.  Tom our Team Manager supported us while we were away.  Tom helped settle my nerves on game day by positive affirmations before the games.  I loved being part of the team, we all stuck together and supported each other.

I would like to thank Tom Mc Carthy, Steve Reeves, Gordon Godwin and Tim Downes for the great opportunity and supporting me to represent Victoria.”   –   Anthony Bird

The Victorian FIDA Football League exists to provide Victorians with an intellectual disability with the opportunity to participate in Australian Rules Football at a competitive level.

Governed by AFL Victoria, the League promotes fitness, fun, friendship and aims to enhance life skills, develop self-esteem, confidence and improve health.

Anthony Bird