Australia’s Paralympic football team faces an uncertain future after the Australian Sports Commission slashed its entire $175,000 funding.
Australia’s Paralympic football faces an uncertain future after the Australian Sports Commission slashed the team’s entire $175,000 funding.
The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) has described the decision as “disappointing”.
The decision, announced June 23, is part of the Australian Sports Commission’s Winning Edge policy which directs funding to sports that are likely to win medals at major sporting events like the Olympics or the Paralympics.
While the Pararoos is currently ranked 10th in the world, the team now faces an uncertain future.
Pararoos coach Paul Brown has launched an online petition calling on the ASC to reverse their decision.
"Our funding for the Paralympic football program has basically been put on ice," Mr Brown told the ABC.
"We have state programs all round the country, but the national program is going to be no more because they just won't continue with our funding."
He wrote on the petition’s website that the Pararoos funding slash was “discrimination”.
“It’s discrimination. Other Australian teams, and other sports are getting huge amounts of funding, in fact, overall funding to able-bodied sports is increasing this year!”
Luke Casserly, the head of national performance at the FFA said he was disappointed with the outcome.
“FFA is naturally disappointed with this situation and will continue to work towards a positive resolution," he said.
The FFA reportedly knew about the budget cuts since last June. Mr Brown said he also knew about the changes months prior, but was told not to discuss the situation.
"I was hoping that FFA, through the Australian Sports Commission, were going to make something happen. But that obviously hasn't happened," he said.
Under the Winning Edge policy, the ASC wants to Australia to be in the top 5 at the summer Olympics and the Paralympics, number one at the Commonwealth Games, and be in the top 15 during the winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Head of ASC Matthew Favier said he took in account the team’s past performance before making the cuts.
"We don't believe there's a sufficiently strong case ... so we have removed our funding," he told Fairfax Media.
“We're very clear about the aspiration we've set, reflected through the targets. We're unapologetic about that.
He said the Pararoos failed to qualify for the Paralympic Games in 2000, and making it into the Rio 2016 Games was also unlikely.
"Not every sport that has an opportunity to participate at the Olympic or Paralympic Games is funded," he said.