As an introduction to working in the disability sector, BSSC Community Services students have engaged with SCOPE through a fun and interactive medium—balloon football. Representatives from SCOPE were at the college last Monday morning introducing students to this game of great skill.

Currently more than 260 Victorians across five competitive leagues are playing balloon football.

“The game was invented 22 years ago as an opportunity for people with a disability to be involved in sport,” Jye Yates explained. “I’ve been playing for five years and I really love the game.”

The rules are similar to Australian Rules Football, but the ball is a large balloon.

“Most players are in an electric powered chair, or have a support worker pushing them,” Jye said. Jye has been the best and fairest player in the Bendigo Balloon Football League for the past four years and brilliantly demonstrated some of the tactics essential to the game.

BSSC students, who were also confined to wheelchairs, discovered that balloon footy was a great equalizer.

“They could not rely on their usual means of mobility and found themselves working frustratingly hard trying to keep pace with Jye’s graceful manoeuvres from centre court to goal,” Community Services teacher Sue Pickles said.

“The laughter and enjoyment brought our students to a point where they felt comfortable to ask questions about the challenges of living with a disability. It was obvious to them that despite having cerebral palsy, Jye lives a full, happy and meaningful life.”

The Bendigo league plays games at the Eaglehawk YMCA every Tuesday night supported by students from Catholic College Bendigo.