Read story update 06/14 –
Our son, Chris, has always been good at sports even though he was born with Cerebral Palsy and an intellectual disability. For years, Rocky Bay has provided us with Therapy & Professional Services as well as Family Support by way of a Perth Glory membership and a support worker to attend with Chris.
We knew Chris was a fast runner, we just didn’t realise how fast until his last year of primary school, at the athletics carnival.
We watched in awe as Chris sped along the track coming second in the 100 metres.
With the school recommending we definitely put Chris into competition, we started searching for a programme that involved running. Chris was turning 12 years old.
We found very little that involved running which would be suitable for Chris until a year later, when we received a flyer from Football West about a competition called Equal Footingball, a modified form of Soccer that is played alongside other junior competitions at different clubs. We knew Chris loved soccer so we decided to give this a go.
The day arrived. We headed down to Cockburn Soccer Club to try out some soccer with Gordon Duus, Football West’s Inclusive Development Officer as his first coach, and from then everything quickly changed. We discovered pretty quickly that Chris was a very good player. Chris soon become Equal Footingball’s top player and leading scorer and six months later in 2012 at a multi-club open day event, Chris played in his usual top form, only this time, there were people watching.
On the sidelines were representatives from Special Olympics, WA Paralympic Soccer and Wheelchair Sports. By the end of the matches, my husband Sav and I were approached by all of them and left with a handful of business cards with offers to join many different programmes.
After reviewing all the programmes, Chris chose the State Soccer Paralympic Side under coach David Cantoni, Special Olympics for Athletics with coach Lesley Poole and Track under Wheelchair Sports.
Since this time, between competing in track as part of the WA Athletics Strive programme supported by Wheelchair Sport, Athletics with Special Olympics including completing the Bupa Tryathalon as the 2012 Bupa Special Olympics Ambassador, where Chris met Guy Leech, Chris simply hasn’t looked back!
The highlight of the year was receiving the Special Olympics Sport Star of the Year Award for 2012 Perth Metro North as well as third place for track in the Wheelchair Sports Strive Competition at the Wheelchair Sports Star of the Year Awards Night 2012.
With Paralympic Soccer, Chris trains every Saturday and competes at Nationals. Last year in 2012, (the first year WA had ever competed in the Nationals) Chris kicked the first historic goal for WA. We were so proud.
Earlier this year, Chris tried out for the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games which will be held in Newcastle from 1-8 December this year. Unsurprisingly, he was asked to represent Australia in both athletics and soccer. Chris chose soccer.
Currently, Chris has graduated from Equal Footingball and is now training and playing soccer with the Cockburn Under 15’s Division 2 side. He still joins Equal Footingball when not on his “higher duties”.
Chris attends Seton Catholic College and is always involved with college sport.
Last year Chris was selected to play Associated Catholic College (ACC) soccer. The first student with a disability to do so.
Being so committed to all sports, Chris recently competed for Seton in ACC Australian Rules Football. ACC Soccer will be coming up soon and we are sure he will be involved again.
As a family we have watched Chris grow into a fantastic athlete and a wonderful young man. He has astounded us with his skill, commitment and love of sport. Now we can proudly say that Chris will soon be representing Australia as an Australian Olympian.
Sue and Sav Minutillo