Meet Joshua Beekes and learn about '7 - a - side Football'
7-a-side football is played by footballers with Cerebral Palsy, Acquired Brain Injuries and those with stroke related impairments. This football format is coordinated under the International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA) rules with slight modifications. Each team consists of seven players, including the goalkeeper. When competing at a national or international level, athletes are classified according to their physical impairments. The team is then made up of players with a range of classifications. Recent international rule changes now allow females to also participate alongside their male teammates. There is now a pathway through FFV for both genders to continue with their love of football regardless if they have a disability or not.
The sport has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1984. Since then, 7-a-side Football has grown rapidly on both the national and international stage. The sport is increasing in both size and popularity worldwide with sixteen countries set to participate in the World Championships in Argentina next month. The Pararoos (with three Victorian members) have drawn the USA, Ukraine and Northern Ireland in its group stage. Although the sport is still in its infancy in Victoria, the opportunities to play recreationally and competitively are growing, with pathways to both National and International championships. My aim is to become a Pararoo and represent Australia on the world stage.
I have been playing since I was 6 years old in the U7 Colts United Football side in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League competition. My parents heard about the Victorian Paralympic Football Squad and after calling them, was invited to try out in 2015 when I was only 11 years old. Last year, I met the minimum age requirements (13 years) for the Seniors and I was selected to represent Victoria at the National Championships in Sydney. It was a very proud moment for me. This year, after a few stories being done on me in the local news (TV & Print), NPL football side Bendigo City FC awarded me a training scholarship with the U15 side to help me with my technical ability and competitiveness at an elite level. I am extremely thankful to President Robyn Williams for the extra training opportunity with Peter Lodewijks, a former Dutch Ajax player who is now coaching me. This will only continue to help me continue to represent Victoria but hopefully one day, Australia too.
Unfortunately FFV is unable to assist with fundraising. The state program and National Championships is the pathway to hopefully representing Australia but even at national level there are funding issues. The federal government cut the funding of the Pararoos. The Charan Foundation grant allows me to get to Knox once a week where I train with the Victorian Paralympic Football Squad by helping out with transport costs, fees for the program and helping towards further costs associated by representing Victoria at the Nationals being held in November this year.
The Youth Engagement Grant, proudly brought to you by Charan Foundation and founder - Atkinson Prakash Charan.