Australia’s veteran football star Mark Bresciano has backed a partnership between Australian Sports Foundation and the the country's men’s Paralympic football team which will see money raised to through tax deductible donations to help fund the team towards Rio 2016.
The partnership was established after the withdrawal of AUD$175,000 (£96,000/$164,000/€120,500) in funding from the Australian Sports Commission in 2014, with the donations made to the Australian Sports Foundation, of which any amount of AUD$2 (£1/$1.50/€1.40) is tax deductable, set to help the seven-a-side team known as the Pararoos.
Bresciano, who participated in front of a home crowd at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 before being a member of the Australia squad at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, has called for the Australian public to donate to ensure a pathway remains for disabled athletes to play football, with the fund set to help aspiring disabled footballers as well as Paralympic team.
“I have always believed that football is the one and only world game. It should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of race, gender or physical ability,” said Bresciano, an ambassador for the team.
“In Australia the Pararoos have been our national football team for athletes with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury or symptoms resulting from stroke.
“They are an impressive unit of inspiring athletes who are currently ranked 12th in the world.
“Without funding the Pararoos will be unable to continue their program and Aussie footballers with a disability will be forced to give up the sport they love and give up their sporting dreams.
“I want the Pararoos to be the future for all Aussie footballers with a disability.”
The Pararoos are due to begin their campaign towards Rio 2016 this month, when they are due to compete in the 2015 Cerebral Palsy Football World Championship, set be held from June 13 to 28 in Burton upon Trent, Britain.
Kai Lammert, Pararoos head coach, has revealed a 14-man squad for the tournament, in which a top eight finish would secure Australia's first appearance at the Paralympics since Sydney 2000.
The Pararoos are set to be captained by 36-year-old David Barber, who has made 60 appearances for his country, while Cameron Gudgeon, Ben Atkins, Christopher Pyne, Connor Marsh, Jack Williams and James Turner have all been named in the squad.
Ned McCabe, Zachary Jones, Jarrod Larkins-Law, Thomas Goodman, Benjamin Roche, Christopher Barty and Nicholas Prescott complete Lammert’s selection for tournament, which will see 16 countries participating.
Australia are set to face Portugal, Russia and Republic of Ireland in Group B of the tournament, which will be taking place at the English Football Association's national training centre St George's Park.
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March 2015: Pararoos to have funding restored after Football Federation Australia commit to new scheme
January 2015: 2015 Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships volunteer programme launched
July 2014: Twelve-year-old joins online campaign to save Australian Pararoos football team
July 2014: Pararoos future in doubt after they lose all their funding
March 2014: Britain to host 2015 Cerebral Palsy Football World Championship