How the Footy 4 Life program is changing the game for football fans living with a disability

Tommy Dutton smiles while wearing a Footy 4 Life t-shirt

For Caleb Namatjira-McMillan, football is life. The 19-year-old may be wheelchair bound, but that does not stop him from heading down to his local oval every week to kick the footy with his mates.

Key points:

  • The Footy 4 Life program in Alice Springs is allowing football fans who live with a disability to play their favourite game
  • The brainchild of Tommy Dutton, the program is based around encouragement and engagement
  • Due to popular demand, the program runs 26 weeks a year after a succesful six-week trial in 2021

Having category one cerebral palsy means he needs help with most tasks and won’t ever be able to walk.

But his legal guardian, Anne-Marie Temple, says Caleb won’t be held back from getting involved and having fun.

“The friends that he’s made down here he classes as his best mates and these people are now fundamental to his life,” Temple said.

“It allows him to have friends, to have mentors, to learn skills like footy kicking and hanging out.”

While heading down to your local oval or sporting complex to play sport — or to simply take part in some exercise — is a luxury that most Australians can thankfully take for granted, that does not apply to all members of society for a multitude of reasons.

However, a unique program out of the Northern Territory is catering for everyone and anyone who simply wants to get involved.

Tommy Dutton smiles while wearing a Footy 4 Life t-shirt
AFLNT’s Tommy Dutton, the founder of the Footy 4 Life program.(ABC News: Ryan Liddle)

Tommy Dutton is the Remote Development Manager of the AFL Northern Territory’s Alice Springs office and the founder of the Footy 4 Life Wellbeing Wednesday program.

“I just wanted to have a program for the community and what we found was lots of the clientele that were coming through were mainly coming through the National Disability Insurance Scheme or people living with a disability, sort of looking at a program to be a part of, rather than a spectator,” Dutton said.

Posted 23m ago23 minutes agoTue 28 Jun 2022 at 9:18pm, updated 6m ago6 minutes agoTue 28 Jun 2022 at 9:35pm

Author: Ivan Robinson