EAST Coast Eagles All Abilities futsal coordinator Chris Whitfield has high hopes for the Port Macquarie-based side at this weekend’s national titles.
He believes they’re good enough to place their name in the history books as the champions of the first-ever All Abilities titles to be held in western Sydney.
The squad was formed little more than 18 months ago, so the fact they are in with a shot at becoming the best in Australia is beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.
They have come a long way in a relatively short period of time, but they are no less proud to be involved this weekend.
“It’s the first time this (All Abilities national championships) has been done in a lot of ways; there are no other sports in Australia that have sat down and said let’s put something together at a national level,” Whitfield said.
The Eagles are looking forward to the challenge of testing themselves against the best futsal players from around Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.
“They’re putting the athletes with a disability into the mainstream championships so it’s fully inclusive – no-one else does that,” Whitfield said.
“There’s always mainstream things and everything else, but this is everything together.”
Not only does Whitfield want his team to succeed, he believed it was the perfect opportunity for more inclusiveness in society.
“I want to see it as part of the bigger picture of seeing more social inclusion for people with disabilities in Australia in sport,” he said.
“People come down and watch us for the sake of watching.
“I just want the opportunity for these guys to show what they can do and give these guys an experience they’ll never forget.”
The Eagles will play four games from Saturday until Tuesday.
“We can win it because I know the technique these guys have has come a long way,” Whitfield said.
“They get severely underestimated and even in the mixed social competition here every Tuesday night – they went from D-grade grand final to C-grade grand final the very next term.
“If people really gave these guys a chance they’d show them a lot more of what they can do, not just in society but in everything else as well.”
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