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Touch Football Australia (TFA) launched the All Abilities Touch Football Program – a new, completely inclusive program that provides opportunities for people with intellectual and/or physical impairments to learn touch football skills and play the sport with their family members, carers, friends, elite footy players and the wider community.

The new All Abilities Touch Football Program is funded as a result of a participation grant from the Sport Australia ‘Move it Aus’ program.

The All Abilities Touch Football Program will be rolled out over the next 12 months, with six programs to be implemented in Queensland, six in New South Wales, and one in each of Australia’s other six states and territories.

To launch the All Abilities Touch Football Program, on Friday 9th August, TFA showcased the program, along with program supporters the Gold Coast Titans at their High Performance Centre.

The All Abilities Touch Football Program is designed as an eight-week skills development entry-level program to equip people with intellectual and/or physical impairments with the skills to start playing sport.

TFA National Inclusion Manager Graeme Clancy said the program has had a hugely positive impact on participants in its recent eight-week pilot at Burleigh Bears Rugby League Club.

“Sport, and being part of teams, is something many of us take for granted – for others, it’s not as easy as just signing up. Taking part in the All Abilities Touch Football Program gives people the chance to experience being part of a team, having fun in a social environment, making new friends and taking part in a healthy activity,” he said.

“Sport is also a great way to help people understand the importance of following rules, listening to others and helping your friends. I’ve noticed growth in athletes’ confidence – not only in their physical ability, but in their ability to connect with others. It’s wonderful to see some athletes and their families, who have previously lived quite isolated lives, find lasting friendships through Touch Football.”

Clancy said the program works well because Touch Football is a very accessible, inclusive sport, in general.

“Males and females can play together, almost half of the sport’s participants nationally are female, it can be played from ages five to 75, it comes with a low risk of injury, and the rules are easily modifiable depending on player age and ability. So it’s always been a sport that everyone can have a go at, and now thanks to the All Abilities Touch Football Program, it really is a sport for all.”

The inclusive nature of Touch Football is evident in the fact that on the same evening, two ‘All Abilities’ teams tapped off their Metro Cup campaign, competing within the mainstream division 2 of South-East Queensland’s premier touch football club competition, which is hosted by the Brisbane Metropolitan Touch Association (BMTA).

The All Abilities teams comprise of a mixture of TFS athletes (individuals with a diagnosed intellectual disability) and other team members (no diagnoses required, open to everyone).

Rather than being in their own specialised division, the All Abilities teams (representing the Southern Storm and UQ Rebels) are competing in the mainstream division 2 competition of the Metro Cup, using full TFA rules and field sizes, making it a truly inclusive opportunity.

The fact that athletes with an intellectual and/or physical impairment can go from learning Touch Football skills to applying them to playing a game demonstrates the pathway from a program like the All Abilities Touch Football Program to competing with teams in representative tournaments.

FOR DETAILS ON PROGRAM LOCATIONS, GO TO:  touchfootball.com.au/touch-football-specialised-tfs

FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT:

TFA National Inclusion Manager Graeme Clancy: graeme.clancy@touchfootball.com.au">graeme.clancy@touchfootball.com.au