Inclusive Pathway Opened in Waitakere

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Oratia United’s NRFL Division 1 match versus Hibiscus Coast last weekend was not only an exciting on the field encounter but also the off field activities saw the start of an new partnership between the Football Club and Special Olympics Waitakere.

The weekend’s events, which both parties see as the start of a long term relationship, saw players from the Special Olympics Waitakere Football Team be ball boys and girls for Oratia United’s dramatic come-from-behind win over Hibiscus Coast.

Special Olympics New Zealand is an organisation that is first and foremost a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but it provides athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport.

A charitable trust who have been providing sporting opportunities to athletes with intellectual disabilities for nearly 30 years. Sport can enhance their athlete’s physical and social development while encouraging greater self-esteem and confidence.

Talking about the partnership between, Special Olympics Waitakere Chairperson and Football Coach Paul Misselbrook said “It’s great that Oratia United have included us in their football environment as part of their plan to be more involved and inclusive with the local community”

“Our football team has been running for nine years, using the facilities at Parrs Park and its fantastic to now be working with the club. We would like to thank Jo Ghent and Oratia United for inviting Special Olympics Waitakere into the club and look forward to working with you and hopefully hosting some football events using the facilities you have”

Oratia United’s Captain Robby Robinson was equally appreciative of the support from the Waitakere Special Olympics players “On behalf of the Club I would like to say a huge thank you to Paul and the Special Olympics Players, we loved the energy you all brought and we would love to see you back down at the club for another game”

“After the match I spoke to Paul from Special Olympics who mentioned a tournament that the Waitakere team will be competing in early next year and I would like to think we can get a few of our first team boys to come and be ball boys to return the favour”

Oratia United’s Communications Manager Jo Ghent said “We are wholeheartedly behind the concept of Inclusion Football and this partnership with Special Olympic Waitakere is a fantastic first step”

This partnership is the first part of Northern Football Federations Inclusion Programme which aims to create more opportunities for community groups like Special Olympics Waitakere to not only have the opportunity to play football, but to be part of their local Football club.

Mel Giles, Northern Football Federations Community Development Manager said “Our goal is to have more people playing and loving football through our Inclusion Programme.

We will be looking to affiliate other Special Olympics Football Teams and other community groups to local clubs within our region to provide sustainable winter competitions administered by the federation”

“Coming from a Special Olympics background, I believe there is an opportunity for sports organisations to become inclusive for all members of the community and this is the beginning of Northern Football’s commitment” said Giles

If your club or team is interested in a similar partnership to Special Olympics Waitakere and Oratia United, please get in touch with

In addition, Northern Football have launched a Inclusion Football League in partnership with Friends of Football and Special Olympics New Zealand kicking off on Sunday the 26th of August. More information on this can be found here

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