By Max Davies
Mitchell Rangers Soccer Club hosted a range of Victorian clubs for its All-Abilities Gala Day at the weekend, bringing together teams and families of all abilities in an inclusive and safe environment.
Collingwood City, DOC United, Frankston Pines, Glen Eira, Northern Falcons, the Victorian Para State Team, and the All-Abilities Soccer Academy joined the Mitchell Rangers on Saturday for a day of friendly soccer, with a focus on making sure everyone had a good time rather than winning.
Mitchell Rangers All Abilities coach Paul Sirianni said the day was aimed at being a positive event for all participants.
“It’s a great game to watch, and even though [some of them] are division one games where it’s most competitive, both teams cheer each other on, both teams are happy to see the others achieve,” he said.
“It’s the way all sport really should be played. Everyone’s smiling, everyone’s happy, win, lose, or draw, as long as they’re playing, they’re happy.”
Saturday’s event was the first time the Rangers have hosted an all-abilities day on a large scale, with some smaller games hosted about three years ago.
Mr Sirianni said the day was an opportunity for the players to enjoy themselves, without judgment or criticism they might face in everyday life.
“It’s all-inclusive, everyone gets to have a go, everyone gets to play, that just makes my heart sing,” he said.
“Just to watch these guys out there where in the normal world they’d be shunned upon, and they’d be not taken seriously and not involved in anything, they come out on the soccer pitch with open arms and they’re all welcoming.
“They can get to be themselves without having that stigma attached, they get to be open and free and play.”
Mr Sirianni said everyone was always welcome to visit the club at the corner of Pinniger and Mollison Street in Broadford regardless of ability or experience, with the Rangers able to provide the opportunity to have a kick for anyone interested.
“None of our all-abilities team pay a cent, we cover the costs of everything because that’s a big barrier for them sometimes,” he said.
“The main criteria really is, ‘do you want to play?’ And if the answer’s yes, well then here’s a kit and boots, welcome to the Mitchell Rangers.”
For more information on the Mitchell Rangers Soccer Club, people can visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/mitchellrangerssoccerclub.