“The inflatable goals have been brilliant for our training sessions; they are simple to move and store and make the game a lot more real for our athletes. They’re easy for me and the players to set up and it’s a lot more fun than using cones as goals, which caused a few disagreements around whether a shot was in or not.
“The size of the goals has also encouraged a tighter passing game and less shots from distance, and that should keep us sharp at tournaments.”
For six months Mark has led the football program, which currently caters for 16 male and female players with intellectual disabilities. The group plays socially, as well as in seven-a-side matches and tournaments organised by the Special Olympics.
“Some of the athletes have been around a long time and others are new and in their last year of school,” he says. “So it’s a very mixed group and they have a lot of fun playing together.”
Mark is enjoying seeing the difference sport is making in the lives of the athletes and is now also considering which other sports might be introduced to the region’s Special Olympics programme. One of those he is considering introducing is bocce – another sport Packaworld caters for.
Bocce is among the most popular sports in the Special Olympics movement globally, partly because of its accessibility to people of all ages and abilities. Originating in Italy, it has similarities to bowls but is played within a walled court.
“Just like football, bocce is an inclusive sport, and it lends itself to unified sports matches that bring players with and without intellectual disabilities together to play on the same court, as equals.”
Video: Special Olympics Hutt Valley athletes training with the new Packagoals
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