There are plenty of things one could talk about when it comes to the Federal Government.
The carbon tax, rumours about leadership or cabinet re-shuffling, Qantas involvement, the National Broadband Network… the list goes on and on.
But today I want to reveal the details of a story that I think just plain stinks.
It is a story that bypasses all of the top-level stuff that dominates the front pages and 6pm news bulletins.
For that very reason it’s likely nothing will be done to fix it.
For those unaware, Australia has a deaf soccer team.
Run under the banner of Deaf Football Australia, the game gives males or females who are deaf or hearing impaired the opportunity to play for their country.
According to Deaf Football Australia, several deaf footballers have managed to reach the professional ranks over the last century, but the number is not large – a total of around a dozen have been noted. Some have reached the highest levels of the game, while others only have limited opportunities to succeed at the top level.
But level of success isn’t the point here.
The point here is that we have a group of players, dedicated to their chosen sport, who are representing THEIR COUNTRY.
They will wear the Australian jersey with pride, representing us at national and international competitions.
The Federal Government, however, appears uninterested.
My information is that Deaf Football Australia recently approached the Federal Sports Minister about funding for the National Deaf Football Team.
This would have assisted the team in qualifying for overseas tournaments, training camps and the introduction of school development programs.
The funding plea was rejected.
How much do you think they wanted?
$1 million a year? $2 million a year? What about $3 million a year?
Nowhere near it.
In fact, all they asked for was a lousy $300,000 over four years. That’s just $75,000 a year.
You can sneeze in Parliament House and that amount of cash will come out of a program or scheme somewhere.
Brian Seymour, the secretary of Deaf Football Australia, said he was told the cash injection was not possible as the funding they were after was only for professional athletes and that the team fell under participation.
When Mr Seymour confirmed that half the National team were playing at a high standard – where four to five players at the time were paying taxes on the semi professional income from their football commitments, as well as having ex-socceroo players on board as coaching staff – they still said no.
Now I understand the Federal Government can’t answer every call for funding, but fair dinkum, this is $75,000 a year for a bunch of dedicated athletes representing their country.
What’s even sadder in all of this is that Football Federation Australia (FFA) is in the same boat as the Federal Government.
When I looked on its website, there’s no mention of the deaf team.
“The FFA is not interested in supporting Deaf Football Australia in any way,” Mr Seymour told me.
“To them we are a burden, they will not support Deaf Football Australia in any way whether it be for funding, camps, or helping [us] locate hearing impaired or deaf players through their National player registration system.”
The world game suddenly appears very insular.
The deaf team is heading off to South Korea in May to compete for three weeks against 16 countries across Asia for one of five spots at the Deaflympics to be held in Budapest, Hungary in July 2013.
The team needs $125,000 to get there.
I’ve sent an email to both Football Federation Australia and Federal Sports Minister, Mark Arbib, regarding this issue.
Their replies will be interesting and I’ll ensure we publish them in full.
The person who first alerted me to this story is a knockabout, rugby league loving bloke. He happened to stumble across the deaf team training at a local park recently, and was humbled by their commitment despite their adversities.
If only we were all so humbled.