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Blind and low vision students meet NRL stars

28 September 2017

Leading blindness and low vision service provider Vision Australia has joined forces with the Brisbane Broncos to give a group of teenage clients who live with vision loss the chance to meet their sporting heroes.

The clients, all students of Apsley State High School, recently took a tour of the Broncos’ training facility where they observed the side train and met a number of players ahead of the club’s Queensland derby against the North Queensland Cowboys.

Vision Australia Paediatric Physiotherapist Gabe Dillon said the not-for-profit organisation was excited to give its clients the chance to get up close with some of the biggest names in the NRL.

“The majority of people in Brisbane would probably jump at the chance to take part in something like this and our clients are no different,” Gabe said.

“Living with blindness or low vision is no barrier to enjoying sport, whether it’s as a participant or spectator and it’s great that we’re able to give some of our clients the opportunity to meet the players they follow just as passionately as anybody else,” he said.
Image shows the VA clients with rugby league legend Wally Lewis

Thirteen year-old Mark Smith is a prime example of how people who are blind or have low vision can participate in sport. Despite losing his vision at the age of nine, Mark is still a regular at AFL and NRL games each year.

For others who are blind or have low vision, support is available to assist them in number of ways when it comes to being involved in sporting activities. Vision Australia staff can assist people in reconnecting with a sporting activity they’ve enjoyed in the past, making a current sporting activity more accessible or connecting people with a sporting activity suitable to their level of vision.  

Image shows VA clients with Broncos' star Sam ThaidayWith the Broncos one of the NRL’s top sides during the 2017 season, Gabe said the timing of the visit made it even more exciting for the clients that took part.

“Being able to be around the players as they’re starting to prepare for the finals was pretty special and I think it was good for our clients to see how much hard work the players put in,” he said.

“We’re definitely grateful to the Broncos for letting us come down at this point in the season and hopefully some words of support from our clients on the day gave them a little extra motivation.”
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