By Gary Anderson

12-year-old Claire Falls has launched a petition to save the Australian Pararoos after funding was axed ©TwitterTwelve-year-old Claire Falls has joined a growing online campaign to save the Australian Pararoos seven-a-side football team after the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) slashed the team's entire AUS175,000 (£97,000/$165,000/€123,000) funding.

Falls, who is visually impaired and is legally blind, is a passionate football player in her home city of Canberra and has written to the Football Federation of Australia, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the country's Sports Minister, Peter Dutton.

She has issued them a challenge asking that if she manages to get 175,000 people to pledge one dollar, will they match that total.

"Would they cut the Socceroos [Australian able-bodied football team] funding?" she asks on her petition.

"No they wouldn't, because there would be a huge outrage.

"So why are they cutting the Pararoos because where are we going to get our people to look up to?

"It's not all about medals, it's about having fun and enjoying it and being able to play a sport even with a disability."

Abbott replied to the letter from the youngster thanking her for taking the time to write to him.

Claire Falls tweeted a picture of the letter she received from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott ©TwitterClaire Falls tweeted a picture of the letter she received from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott ©Twitter

The Pararoos were founded in 1998 for players with cerebral palsy or acquired brain injuries, that can still run or walk.

Despite being currently ranked 10th in the world, they have not participated at a Paralympic Games since Sydney in 2000.

The ASC has withdrawn all funding for the side as they deem that they are unlikely to qualify for Rio 2016 and have not been producing good enough results in recent years to warrant support.

Last month's decision led the team's coach Paul Brown to launch his own campaign to try and get a funding reprieve, which has already garnered around 70,000 signatures.

"My players have worked so hard, they've given up a lot," said Brown.

"If you compare our programme or the budget that we had to say the English, they have got a AUS$6 million (£3.3 million/$5.7 million/€4.2 million) budget and have the full backing of the FA (Football Association).

"If you look at their programme and the standard and the ranking we've got of 10 in the world, I think that my players have done a fantastic job to keep that ranking against all odds."

Along with Para-football, the ASC also withdrew funding for powerlifting.

The decision was made as part of its Winning Edge Policy which distributes AUS$256 million (£142 million/$242 million/€180 million) Government funding to sports in Australia.

The policy is designed to reward those teams and athletes who are performing and winning medals on the international stage or are deemed as potential medallists at Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as World Championships.

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