City of Casey Mayor Amanda Stapledon last Friday launched an Australian first Wheelchair Softball Competition in what is a significant move forward in the sport’s inclusivity.
Mayor Stapledon was on hand to throw the first pitch in the four-team competition made up of both people with a disability and able-bodied softballers at Casey Stadium.
“I’m very proud not only as Mayor of the City of Casey but also as an advocate for people with a disability and their carers,” said Cr Stapledon.
“We have such a wonderful facility here at Casey Stadium in which to play Wheelchair Softball, everyone playing here is very experienced and love their sport, so why not give them the best.
“The enthusiasm, that’s what I love, what we’re trying to do is provide health and wellbeing outcomes for all of our community and that includes people who are in wheelchairs or have mobility issues, people with autism, mental health issues and people who are able-bodied.
“We want to make sure no one is left behind and everyone is included. That’s the beauty with the Wheelchair Softball competition, no one can tell who is able-bodied and it brings everyone on to a level playing field.”
Hayden Auber, a first-time softballer, made a return to playing sport since his injury and immediately made his presence felt, belting a home-run at his first at-bat for the Cranny Cats.
“Everyone was extremely welcoming and supportive of one another and it felt great to play sport again,” said Auber.
The program demonstrates Softball Australia’s commitment to providing an inclusive sport for people of all ages, culture, gender and ability throughout the country with the inaugural competition hopefully paving the way for the development of similar programs throughout Australia.
Softball Australia would like to thank Casey Stadium for hosting the competition, Chris Pallot, Casey Stadium Centre Director said they are proud to host the event.
“The centre is thrilled to be able to host the inaugural wheelchair softball competition at Casey Stadium,” said Pallot.
“We have been focusing on increasing our inclusive programming at the facility and it’s rewarding to see this concept become a reality. We are thankful to Softball Australia and all other parties that have helped create this groundbreaking program. It’s an exciting time for the Casey Community and we look forward to the program continuing to grow.”
A number of other organisations have played a key role in setting up and promoting the competition including Disability Sport and Recreation Victoria, City of Casey, AAA Play, Softball Victoria, Casey Softball Association and the Narre Warren Softball Club and all the teams and players that have registered to take part.
For more information on the Wheelchair Softball competition or to register interest in competing, please contact Tim Hatzi, Club and Community Development Coordinator at Softball Australia via email firstname.lastname@example.org.