Being the only girl on the team wasn’t enough to deter Tasmanian woman Mel Phillips from embarking upon the National Futsal Championships in Sydney earlier this month.
Mel and her six futsal teammates met at New Horizons Club in Launceston, which encourages people with disability to get involved in various indoor and outdoor activities.
Mel, who also enjoys playing basketball with New Horizons, says getting involved in sport has been a positive step in her life.
“Going to the championships was great! I loved playing against the other teams, and I made some new friends too,” said Mel.
“I love sport; it gets me going and relaxes me if I’m in a bad mood. Having friends at sport also gives me someone I can talk to about things. They help me out if I need it, and make me feel good about myself.”
It’s clear that acquiring the top spot is not the core goal for the New Horizons team, who choose to focus on other winning aspects of the game.
“We came last, but being from Tassie we are kind of used to that!” laughed Mel.
“Sport is more about the spirit. We didn’t lose off the court, we won off the court. The coach gives us speeches about being positive and doing our best. He tells us we don’t get to wear our shirts if we are silly.”
Mel gave a shout out to Coach Steve Ockerby and Team Manager Lorna Wilson, who made the experience great for all involved. She also thanked EPIC Assist, who provided funding to cover the costs of the tournament.
“It was very handy having the funds from EPIC- I appreciated it a lot. I was able to get new futsal shoes with the money that I didn’t use for the trip,” said Mel.
Mel says sport can have several positive influences on a person’s life, and encourages others to give it a shot.
“It build up your confidence and gives you another support base.”
On the topic of disability more broadly, Mel calls for open-mindedness and a readjustment of existing preconceptions.
“I say if you can dream it, you can do it,” said Mel.
“I’d like to see people with disability treated the same as everyone else, and their dreams should still be achievable even though they have a disability.”