Peter Panagopoulos is the integrated coach at North Beach Football Club. He stars in “Filming Our Future”, which captures the joy and vibrancy that this club brings to the lives of all its players and explores the way that sport and physical activities can drive inclusion and community cohesion.
Integrated football is open to people with disability and has rules that are very slightly modified from the game you see on TV. The competition’s goal is to improve the independence, wellbeing, self-esteem and life skills of people with disability by participating in Australian football.
Panagopoulos speaks about his experience coaching the team saying, “When you get to know the individuals, it’s no different than other mates I’ve got… It’s made us a more inclusive club. It has changed people’s perceptions of the value that someone with disability can bring to any place, just like any other character or any other personality that walks through the door.”
He adds that, “The players in the team have all got quite distinct and strong personalities. One of the guys is just goal-hungry, loves a goal, you know, he’s not really passing that ball for anyone, and then to see him grow over the years. In the middle of a play, he’ll stop, take the ball over to that player who was not gonna get a kick without help, and that just makes me proud as punch.”
“It’s definitely enriched my life and my attitudes,” he says.
Teammate, Ben, loves being part of the club and flourishes in the environment where he is often supporting other members of the club. His carer says, “Not only has his physical skills and dedication improved, his confidence, self-reliance and independence too. These attributes have made him a pillar of the integrated football community.”
You can watch the full documentary here. This is one episode in a captivating new 15-part disability-led documentary series by Screenwest and Carers WA which aims to ensure individuals, families and friends in caring roles and communities have the best opportunity to thrive and have the capacity to respond to emerging needs and challenges.