Spe­cial needs play­ers ex­celling

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Looklocalwa.com.au - By SO­PHIE GABRIELLE

AS a Fre­man­tle Dock­ers sup­porter and a fan of Nat Fyfe, Lach­lan Hodg­son was des­tined to wear the num­ber 7 jumper.

The 13-year-old is part of the Marist Ju­nior Foot­ball Club’s re­cently launched Footy Champs pro­gram for chil­dren with spe­cial needs.

Lach­lan said he en­joyed be­ing part of the club.

“I like kick­ing goals and tack­ling; and tak­ing a hanger,” he said.

The pro­gram cur­rently has 10 New­man Col­lege stu­dents in­volved, but club pres­i­dent John Pen­ni­ment said he was keen to ex­pand next year and would wel­come stu­dents from other schools.

“It is the first of its kind in the Clare­mont Dis­trict,” Mr Pen­ni­ment said. “They are able to run around with­out their par­ents stand­ing right be­hind them.

“It gives par­ents the op­por­tu­nity to watch with­out hav­ing to be heav­ily in­volved.”

Mr Pen­ni­ment said the play­ers, who were from dif­fer­ent year groups, em­braced the ca­ma­raderie of be­ing part of a foot­ball club.

“It’s im­por­tant to enjoy footy, to enjoy the game.

“It’s so much fun for ev­ery­one and you can see their skill level im­prov­ing all the time.”

Year 9 stu­dents from the Marist Ju­nior Foot­ball Club help Mr Pen­ni­ment with coach­ing the Footy Champs play­ers.

Footy Champs is a WA foot­ball Com­mis­sion ini­tia­tive.

The club will re­ceive a $1000 Holden Home Ground Ad­van­tage grant this month to buy gaze­bos for spec­ta­tors and play­ers.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d447446

Ronin O'Con­nor, Jack Pen­ni­ment (back), Mitchell Ryan, An­gus Hogg, Lach­lan Hodg­son and Joey Kave­nagh.

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