Australia’s best para footballers are headed to Perth this October with the west coast city set to host the 2023 National Para Football Championships for the first time.
Running from 3 - 8 October 2023 at the world-class WA State Football Centre, five teams will be in contention to be crowned national champions in the 19th edition of the competition.
The tournament will hold additional significance this year as it will be the final opportunity to impress the CommBank ParaMatildas and CommBank Pararoos head coaches prior to their selection of the Australian squads for the Men’s and Women’s 2023 IFCPF Para Asian Cup.
Football Australia Head of Inclusion, Sarah Walsh, said it was pleasing to see the competition continue to grow each year.
“The National Para Football Championships are a critical part of Football Australia’s vision to ensure football is open and accessible to the Australian community,” Walsh said.
“Last year we saw the expansion of the tournament to include an all women’s team for the first time and advancements including full streaming of the all the matches. Off the back of that increased visibility and heroizing of para footballers, we anticipate that in 2023 we will see greater participation than ever before.
“The championships are an essential representative pathway but every year we see that it’s about more than football; it’s an inclusive and positive environment that allows players to celebrate and empower each other and para football,” she concluded.
With the tournament set to kick off at the beginning of October, it will provide a smorgasbord of football for Perth with the city recently announced as the host of Group A of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Paris 2024™ Asian Qualifiers Round 2.
It will be the first time that Perth would have held the Championships and is rewarded for the recent strong development of CommBank Pararoos and CommBank ParaMatildas emerging from the state.
Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell said: “Football West is delighted with the news that the 2023 National Para Football Championships are coming to Perth for the first time.
“In recent years WA has boasted some of the best players in Australia, including recently retired CommBank Pararoos legend Chris Barty, Connor Bunce, Alessandro La Verghetta and goalkeeper Katelyn Smith, who helped the CommBank ParaMatildas reach the IFCPF Women’s World Cup final in 2022.
“The new State Football Centre will be an outstanding venue for this tournament and hopefully we will see the Gold Fields WA State Paras go one better than the silver medal they won in 2019. It is also another endorsement for football in Western Australia, coming just weeks before the CommBank Matildas head to Perth to play three qualifying matches for the Paris 2024™ Olympics.”
CommBank ParaMatildas head coach, Kelly Stirton, stated the importance of the Championships in identifying the next generation of national team stars.
“It’s exciting to have the National Para Football Championships back for another year and in a new location,” Stirton said. “These Championships play an important role in the player pathway as it is the only time that Kai Lammert and I get to watch and identify new players to come into our camps for domestic training camps and major tournaments.
“We are appreciative of the substantial amount of work undertaken by the Member Federations to prepare players for these Championships. Representing your state with your mates is always a special time and with the added incentive of the national team, this tournament is one that provides both coaches and players fantastic opportunities.”
Former CommBank Pararoos goalkeeper and WA State Team Manager, Chris Barty, explained how vital the tournament was for the acceptance of para-athletes.
“For players starting out, this might be the first time they play our version of the game. It might even be the first time they meet someone else with a disability,” Barty said. “I loved my time playing for Australia, but representing Western Australia was always extra special.”
“The gold jersey is something that is synonymous with State Teams in WA Football and getting to wear that kit essentially tells our players “We Belong”. As a captain, I always wanted our team to go out there and show everyone in football why we deserved to belong alongside other WA State Teams.”
2023’s tournament will be held thanks to the support of Football West. All the latest news and updates will be available here.
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