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Young Aussie para-athletes score with new funding for equipment and training

September 4, 2019
Rosey McGrath

Funding from Sport Access Foundation's 2019 Grants Program will propel the next generation of Aussie para-athletes to take on the world’s best.

Our Founder, Katie Kelly OAM, who has a deaf-blind condition known as Usher's Syndrome, won gold in the Paratriathlon at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and is seeking to qualify for her second Paralympics in Paratriathlon the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. She established the Sport Access Foundation (SAF) in 2017 to help ensure sport is accessible for all young Australians living with a disability, and to help them achieve their sporting goals.

Katie Kelly, SAF Founder said:

"Access to the right facilities and equipment is a game-changer for young Australians living with a disability and the sporting clubs who support them. This year we received over 110 applications and we are delighted to be awarding $20,000 in grants to help young athletes with a disability, to enjoy their sport and have the opportunity to compete at the highest level."

The foundation has an ongoing partnership with the ASX listed steel company BlueScope.

In announcing the 2019 recipients at Bluescope’s Port Kembla site today, BlueScope’s Managing Director and CEO, Mark Vassella, said:

"It’s so inspiring to see young para-athletes working toward their individual goals. BlueScope is delighted to continue its support as a foundation partner and we congratulate this year’s group of grant recipients."

The 2019 Sport Access Grants Program has five categories:

  1. Harvey Heroes SAF Grants - 10x individual grants of $250 each
  2. SAF Pathway to Paralympics Grants - 2x individual grants of $2,000 each
  3. SAF Equipment Grants - 4x individual grants of $2,000 each
  4. PICA Group Sporting Club Grants - 2x club / group grants of $2,000 each
  5. SAF Club Equipment Grants - 2x club / group grants of $2,000 each

1. Harvey Heroes SAF Grants

10x individual grants of $250 each

Harvey Norman have teamed up with Sport Access Foundation to ensure more young Aussies living with a disability have a helping hand to join a local sporting club. The funds will be used to help pay for registration fees, carer cost, extra coaching, team uniforms or travel to participate in the sport.

Katie Page, Harvey Norman’s CEO said:

"We’re so proud to be an official partner of the 2019 Sport Access Foundation grant program. We have supported Katie Kelly OAM (SAF Founder) in her Paralympic journey and we share with her, her vision to ensure every young Australian living with a disability has the opportunity to be a member of a sporting Club."

Rowan Kupeckyj

Sport: Inline Speed Skating   Age: 10   From: Walkley Heights, SA   Disability: Autism

Kirra Wright

Sport: Athletics   Age: 11 From: Wallan, VIC   Disability: Acquired Brain Injury

Brydi Saul  

Sport: Triathlon + Athletics   Age: 9  From: Inala, QLD    Disability: Paraplegic

Brooke Simpson

Age: 14   Sport: Swimming    From: Joslin, SA     Disability: Cerebral Palsy

Sophie Skotnicki  

Sport: Cheerleading    Age: 10   From: Ngunnawal, ACT   Disability: Cerebral Palsy

Reese Prior  

Sport: Athletics   Age: 12    From: Kingsley, WA    Disability: Cerebral Palsy

Balin Cannon  

Sport: Weightlifting   Age: 13   From: Moama, NSW   Disability: Hearing impairment + Intellectual disability

Luke Kirby  

Sport: Equestrian   Age: 12   From: Woodend, VIC   Disability: Intellectual Disability + Autism

Brady Cochrane

Sport: Athletics   Age: 11   From: Ringwood, VIC    Disability: Born with Bilateral Talipes

Sarah Leishmann

Sport: Cheerleading   Age: 10   From: Boronia, VIC    Disability: Sensory Progressing Disorder

2. SAF Pathway to Paralympics Grants

2x individual grants of $2,000 each

This grant is to help our future Paralympians with the additional cost incurred when competing at the highest level. This grant is for costs relating to new and upgraded equipment, to compete in an international competition in their sport, to access additional coaching support and to assist with travel costs (particularly where additional cost to travel with equipment or a carer/guide is required).

Mitchell Bond

Sport: Wheelchair Basketball   Age: 16   From: Leopold, VIC   Disability: Paralysed from Neck down / Transverse Myelitis

Mitchell is part of the 2019 U/23 Australia wheelchair basketball squad. At the age of 6 months of age Mitchell was paralysed from the neck down from a condition called Transverse Myelitis.

“The grant will be used to purchase a wheel bag that can allow me to safely transport my wheels, axles and spare parts/tools during flights to National or International tournaments. I am looking to representing Australia in Japan 2019 and Canberra in 2019 and 2020 so the funding will help me to access these tournaments.”  

Achievements: 2019 Vic DSR Sportsperson of the Year; 2019 U23 Australian WC Basketball Squad; 2019 Vic U23 WC Basketball team at KCC National Championship.

Jamieson Leeson

Sport: Boccia   Age: 16   From: Dunedoo, NSW   Disability: Born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Jamieson was born with spinal muscular atrophy, has never been able to walk and has been in a wheelchair her whole life.

“I live over 6 hours from Sydney where I train 3-4 days each week so the grant will assist with travel expenses, accommodation costs, fuel, carer costs plus coaching costs plus costs for overseas competitions.”

Achievements: Jamieson won Bronze Medal in Hong Kong World Open Boccia BC3 pairs (youngest player representing Australia) and is aiming for 2020 Tokyo Paralympic gold medal in BC3 pairs.

3. SAF Equipment Grants

4x individual grants of $2,000 each

The SAF Equipment Grant will assist developing athletes to go the next level in their sport by providing support to upgrade their equipment or to access modified equipment.

Angela Bubb

Sport: Swimming   Age: 13  Club: Logan Vikings Swimming Club   From: Shailer Park, QLD   Disability: Born without a Right Foot

Recently competed in the Australian Age Championships Adelaide (April 2019). Angela was born without a right foot. The grant will help fund a customised swim leg. Angela said:

“As a part of my swimming training we are required to do 1000m kicks, which is extremely difficult for me having only one foot. A customised prosthetic will enable me to be more competitive.”

Sean Kendrick

Sport: Blind Cricket  Age: 15  Club: QLD Blind Cricket   From: Westlake, QLD   Disability: Born with Bilateral Anophthalmia (no eyes)

In the Australian Blind Cricket Training Squad. Sean was born with Bilateral Anophthalmia (no eyes) so is completely blind. The grant will help to purchase a Bowling Machine. Sean said:

“I have to practice my batting with my father bowling, and he can’t bowl as quick or consistently as I need to face at the national level. I would like to get a bowling machine so I can practice against the pace of bowling required.”

Teisha Shadwell

Sport: Wheelchair Basketball   Age: 16  Club: Australian Gliders   From: Rowville, VIC   Disability: Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in Both Feet

Recently won silver at the IWBF under 25 world championship in Thailand. Teisha said:

“The grant will help upgrade my current wheelchair chair / fund a new one so that I can play to my full potential as I strive for my major goal of Paralympics 2020 and beyond.”

Ella Newbery

Sport: Para-Equestrian / Dressage  Age: 17  Club: Northside Riding Club   From: Warriewood, NSW   Disability: Acquired Brain Injury / right sided Hemiplegia

“The grant will go towards the purchase of a custom dressage saddle. In dressage it is very important to have a stable and correct seat which will improve my riding significantly and allow me to continue to improve and ultimately reach my long-term goal of being a para-equestrian rider.”

4. PICA Group Sporting Club Grants

2x club / group grants of $2,000 each

The SAF Equipment Grant will assist developing athletes to go the next level in their sport by providing support to upgrade their equipment or to access modified equipment.

PICA Group’s CEO Greg Nash said:

"The PICA Group proudly support an inclusive and diverse workplace, so it makes sense that we promote this more broadly in the community via activities such as SAF Sporting Club grants."


Sport: Equestrian   From: Brigadoon, Perth WA

HorsePower strive to maintain a safe and efficient horse-riding program for people with disabilities. The funding will help basic facility maintenance and upgrades such as shelving, replacement of deteriorated items and cleaning products. Of the 75 members at the club, 50 have a disability, 30 of whom are aged 7-17. Marnie Butler, Grants Officer of HorsePower said:

“We provide equine-assisted therapeutic, educational, recreational and sporting activities aimed at expanding the horizons of individuals leading to the enrichment of their lives. Providing a specialised program for such a range of disabilities at a reasonable cost to families requires assistance in the form of volunteers and grants such as this one.”

Randwick City Football Club

Sport: Football (Soccer)  From: Zetland, NSW

Their focus is football for children with a disability. Ben Folino, Director and Coach from RCFC said:

“Our club auspices the Purple Hearts, a squad of footballers with a disability. The initiative started in 2010 when the club was originally formed. We have players with physical, intellectual and sensory disability. Most would be on the autism spectrum. Out of 200 members, 20 aged between 7-17 have a disability. The funds will provide coaching and engagement activities for the young players.”

5. SAF Club Equipment Grants

2x club / group grants of $2,000 each

The funding can be used for new and upgraded equipment such as marquees, lights, accessible club room and restrooms, accessible technology for club digital, cost to implement programs specifically for children with a disability and / or education of club officials / coaches / volunteers on working with children with a disability.

Moreton Bay Cycling Club

Sport: BMX + Road Cycling   From: Northlakes, QLD

Chelses Munday, Grants Coordinator of Moreton Bay Cycling Club indicated they will provide modified equipment to assist their members who have a disability to take part in both BMX and road cycling.

Doyalson Wyee Soccer Club

Sport: Football (Soccer)  From: Doyalson, NSW

Kerry Sweetnaem, Club President says the club aims to help children who have disabilities, such as Autism and Down Syndrome and special needs play soccer. The funding will provide modified and specialist equipment as well as assist with registration fees for players and to provide coaching and modified equipment.

Thank you everyone who applied. Be sure to follow us on social media and to signup to our eNewsletter to stay-up-to-date with future grant announcements.


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