The wind roared through the deserted grandstands and the rain threatened the once hallowed turf that was once the home of SANFL football, the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide. Now it is only the training venue of Adelaide and the SANFL umpires. That didn’t deter 25 young Down syndrome participants and their parents from assembling in the centre of AAMI Park to learn how to become an umpire. There were the excited cries of “Go Crows” as the warm up started and then as the parents looked around the vast emptiness of the 50,000 seat stadium there were sighs of wow this is bigger than I thought it would be!
Jonathan Creasey, Steve Axon, Leigh Haussen, Rowan Hundertmark, Sandra and Mayley Harris and others all came to help and the sheer joy on their faces summed it up well.
South Australian Umpire’s Manager, Shane Harris, has championed the program and become personally involved since we moved it onto an Australia-wide platform. Shane has enlisted the help of Down Syndrome South Australia, CEO, Maureen Lawlor which saw us develop a partnership to conduct our DSSA training day last Wednesday night. Maureen advertised and grew the event through her membership and we rolled out a great night for those who braved the bleak conditions.
Channel Seven news reporter and presenter, Amelia Mulcahy, a Down syndrome ambassador, presented the weather from the middle of the ground, giving great exposure to our participants and our umpires.
Rob Silva, Chairman of the DSSA Board and Jackie Beard, a board director stood and marvelled at the enjoyment and responses of our umpires with the participants.
The evening ended when the group had finished the light refreshments that were put on after the event and they all went home having had a great time.
Our sincere thanks to Shane Harris and our SA umpires for their committed help in making a difference in people’s lives.