Swans continue to lead the way in access and inclusion

Monday, November 30, 2020 - 9:19 AM by Matthew Ogg

In 2017, the Swan Districts Football Club reset its purpose, vision and values, asserting their focus on building communities and developing people throughout WA.

As we look to celebrate International Day of People with Disability on Thursday December 3rd, the club continues to explore ways to stand by their four core values of 1) We act with integrity, 2) Everyone matters, 3) Raise the bar and 4) We fly together.

International Day of People with Disability has been celebrated internationally for 55 years and aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance to all people with a disability, while celebrating their achievements and contributions made throughout the world.

A couple of ways in which the Swan Districts Football Club are helping change the landscape of football clubs in WA around this space include:

Count Me In Round

In 2007, Maurice Embley approached the Swan Districts Football Club with the idea of people with a disability, their families and carers be given the opportunity to be guests of the club at the Swans home games. The support from the black and whites was so great that the venture soon started to spread throughout the WAFL competition with four other clubs getting on board in 2010 (Subiaco, South Fremantle, Perth and East Fremantle). Two seasons later, Maurice submitted a proposal to the Disability Services Commission to fund all teams to join this great initiative, with over 800 invitations sent out to people with a disability, their carers and family members that same year.

From there, the West Australian Football League dedicated a fixtured game to be specifically known as Count Me In Round. In recent years, people with disabilities have gone from being VIP guests in the supporter’s area, to taking their position on the field in an integrated football game that is played as the curtain raiser to the WAFL and/or WAFLW matches.

Not only has Count Me In Round become a way for clubs to celebrate people with disabilities and promote community inclusion, there have been many unforeseen benefits that have also come from it.

Some of these include:

  • An increase in volunteers in varied roles at clubs,
  • New sponsors,
  • Membership growth,
  • Employment opportunities,
  • A greater community presence by players, staff, members and supporters, and much more.

The Swan Districts Football Club takes great pride in being the first football organisation to have originated such an important initiative for people with disabilities, their carers and family members, and to have seen it spread throughout the entire WAFL and WAFLW competition.

The Swans Nest

In 2019, the Swan Districts launched an innovative method of allowing people who experience sensory overload to still participate and enjoy watching the black and whites play at home.  

The Swans Nest is a sensory tent that is dedicated to providing a safe, quieter place for those who may be overwhelmed by the noise and activity associated with game days at Steel Blue Oval.

It gives all families and people with disabilities the opportunity to be a part of the game day experience, in a way that is comfortable for them.

Sassy Ability

Swan Districts Football Club have teamed up with Sassy Ability to provide fun, friendship and entertainment for people living with challenges around Perth.

Every Monday morning from 10:15am-11:30am at Steel Blue Oval sees the lights dimmed while the DJ fires up some popular hits, as part of a music video dance party. For those who aren’t afraid of being behind the mic, Wednesday morning’s karaoke is full of fun and enjoyment. Running from 10:30am-11:30am, people are welcome to come and belt out their favourite tunes, or simply sit back and participate in a variety of other activities on the day.

Swans Disability Advocacy Committee member, Robyn Hansson, started the group in January this year, understanding there was a strong need for more quality programs throughout the community, for people with disabilities, in aged care or suffering with mental health illnesses.


Feed a Need

Every Wednesday morning from 10am-11:30am, anyone who is hungry around Perth is invited to Steel Blue Oval to enjoy some warm food, a cool drink and a place to socialise with staff, volunteers and other community members.

Jim Dougan and his partner Gill were the originators of this caring initiative, stating that they knew that the Swan Districts Football Club was the perfect organisation to help host the breakfasts.

Swans Disability Advocacy & Inclusion Sub-Committee

The key purpose of the Swans Disability Advocacy and Inclusion Sub-Committee (DAIS) is to engage, influence and lead the club to improve the lives of people with disabilities, as well as their carers and families.

Some of the objectives of the DAIS include; the building of an inclusive club culture, engagement of positive role models and mentors for people with a disability, create partnerships with organisations, other sporting bodies, government and corporate sectors, create employment and workplace opportunities from job readiness training, increase participation of people with a disability at community events held by SDFC and more.

For more information about any of the initiatives above, along with what else the Swans are doing in the community, give us a call on 9279 8700, or contact us by email at reception@swandistricts.com.