Cash helps maintain their pride

Cash helps maintain their pride by Cam Lucadou-Wells (Dandenong Journal Newspaper)

There’s a lofty, abiding aim at Doveton Special Soccer School to give its players the best – without cost to their families.

That aim has been achieved in the past and will be reached a little easier in the future thanks to a record $27,700 grant from Dandenong Club on 13 May.

The grant will help cover complete soccer kits and tracksuits, soccer balls, ground and indoor facility hire this winter, as well as a $15,000 interstate trip to national championships in October for the school’s 30 players and five coaches.

Founder and coach Juan Carlos Loyola OAM  said his players will wear their new uniforms with pride.

“The grant is a tremendous help for us. It means we can continue to help families of intellectually disabled kids.

“The enjoyment of our players comes first and this donation will fulfill their dream to play away as we can now travel to Launceston to compete in October”

The donation signified how much the soccer club’s reputation had grown since its founding in 1993, Mr Loyola said.

About a thousand players have been through the club in that period. Eight have represented Australia, flown over at the club and its sponsors’ expense.

That kind of dedication has earned the club and Mr Loyola countless community awards including an OAM. It also costs up to $55,000 a year run the club.

“It’s money that’s difficult to find. Now our present is good and our future fantastic.”

The Argentinean-born founder’s goal from the start was to give kids with an intellectual disability a chance to enjoy soccer – in training and in games.

“But I wanted to give them the best. They deserve the quality of opportunity like any of us.”

In that time, the club has grown to be the biggest of its type in the state, and one of the biggest in the country.

“We are not necessarily there to make a star player, but to prepare these people to be up there in the community and to enjoy a normal life.”

Players learn the qualities of team sport that transpose into work and life – discipline, sharing, communication and understanding other people.

“We are here to give service to the community and make a big difference and I think I done all ready. We’re teaching our players to enjoy life – that’s the main thing.”

The grant was facilitated by Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams after meeting Community Clubs Victoria president Leon Wiegard.

Dandenong Club president Charlie Daly said the grant was part of nearly $100,000 given back to the community in the past two years.

“It is with great pride we donate this money, and we wish the Doveton Special School the best of luck in their games.

“We are happy to see the smiles of the athletes.”