Happy to play a part

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DANNI SHAFIK danielle. shafik@ news. com. au

A LO­CAL touch foot­ball team is prov­ing that dis­abil­ity is no bar­rier to get­ting out on the sports field.

Happy Touch, an or­gan­i­sa­tion de­signed for play­ers with dis­abil­i­ties, will take part in three matches at the 2017 Touch Foot­ball Cash Comp this week­end.

The group, founded by Clau­dia Cream and Jane Hods­don in Septem­ber, was con­ceived as a way to get peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity in­volved in the sport.

Ms Cream, whose daugh­ter Demi has autism, said she had al­ways been ac­tive in try­ing to find dif­fer­ent team sports to ac­com­mo­date her.

“I’ve been in­volved as a touch foot­ball player and a coach for many years and dur­ing that time Demi would sit on the side­line and just watch,” she said.

“One day I asked her if she wanted to play and she lit up with ex­cite­ment.”

To­gether with friends and fam­ily, Ms Cream, Ms Hods­don and the touch foot­ball com­mu­nity were able to cre­ate the op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity to be in­volved in the team sport.

“It just felt like it was some­thing I had to do,” Ms Cream said.

“For the play­ers it’s not just about learn­ing how to play touch footy, it has given them con­fi­dence, so­cial aware­ness and the skills to in­ter­act and the feel­ing of achieve­ment.”

The num­bers since form­ing have risen as Happy Touch has gone from one to two teams in just nine months, with play­ers aged be­tween 12 and 20.

“We are hop­ing to in­crease our num­bers so more peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity can en­joy the magic of Happy Touch,” Ms Cream said.

“Ev­ery­one who is in­volved in Happy Touch are al­ways smil­ing, laugh­ing and hav­ing fun, the feel­ing is con­ta­gious.”

This year’s Touch Foot­ball Cash Comp is on at Queens Park in North Ward to­day and to­mor­row.

Ms Cream en­cour­aged mem­bers of the com­mu­nity to come out to sup­port the young play­ers.

“Any­one can check us out as they may know some­one with a dis­abil­ity who would ben­e­fit greatly from be­ing a part of a team,” she said.

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