Ben Roche: Pararoo of the Year

Summerland Football Business Manager, Ben Roche discusses his other life as Vice-Captain of the Australian Paralympic Football Team, the Pararoos, as well as becoming an inspiring leader to all abilities footballers across Australia.

 

 

For me the Pararoos are not only an elite football team but a community. It is a goal for those with cerebral palsy, acquired brain and stroke to strive for. It is a way of using football as a tool to help improve the physical, social and mental wellbeing of individuals with a disability.

3 years ago, after the Pararoos first lost their funding, I made the conscious decision to create something that people wanted to a part of; to give people a reason to back the Pararoos. This meant I had to step up as a footballer, as a leader and as an advocate.

My focus was to show that we treat ourselves as professionals, we train as professionals  and we can have a professional footballing environment for players with a disability. I have been committed to growing the awareness of the Pararoos and inclusive football; becoming an ambassador for inclusion.

I have pushed myself, training 9 times a week. I have spoken at over 60 schools and events. And I have coached hundreds of kids across Australia with disabilities.

In the last couple years the Pararoos have gone from strength to strength, securing long term support as well as finishing top  10 in the world at the recent World Championships in Argentina.

Over the weekend the best in Australia met at the National Para Football Championships, hopefully to be recognised by Australian Coaches and maybe one day represent Australia. I was fortunate enough to take a young Victorian team made up of determined footballers wanting to perform to their best.

Last week, I was very lucky enough to be awarded the Pararoo of the year. For me this is a huge honour and a reminder that the hard work is worth it. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have, my teammates who push me and constantly raise the bar, my family who make it possible and sacrifice so much for me to pursue my passion of representing my country.

 

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Picture: Ben with Director of Football NSW, Jeanette Jones