Kickability bounces into Bathurst

“Footy is for everyone.” It’s a sentiment we love to embrace, and something thousands of people across Australia and around the world are trying to achieve.

All AFL staff know our purpose: Progress the game, so everyone can share in its heritage and possibilities.

In NSW’s central west, the Bathurst community is living that purpose.

In 2021, the Bathurst Giants started up a Kickability program – a football clinic for people with disability. In its first year, the club’s treasurer and now Kickability coordinator, Liz Symes, did not know what to expect for the program.

Symes, who works in disability services, said: “We were a little afraid. When we met with the local area coordinators [for people with disability], they asked us what’s going to be our cut-off point for numbers. And we laughed, ‘we’re not going to have a cut-off point,’ we said. We only expected to get about six kids.”

That estimate was way off. Kickability at the Bathurst Giants grew each week as more people found out about the program, with around 20 kids attending the Wednesday evening sessions. (This is a terrific effort as the Bathurst winter is bitingly cold, and this year was particularly wet. Next year’s program will be run during autumn.)

It seemed like everyone in Bathurst wanted to be part of Kickability. Participants were keen, but so were volunteers. “There were times when we had more volunteers than players,” said Symes. “It was interesting because sometimes it’s really hard to get people to volunteer. But I had people that had nothing to do with the club ring me and say, ‘I heard you’re doing this and I want to get involved,’.”

Liz Symes credits two local organisations for providing $3,000 to purchase equipment and guernseys for the players. Thank you to JSC Homes and Café on Corporation.

Kickability’s first season in Bathurst was a huge success for everyone involved. The participants had a great time and will no doubt be back, the volunteers are committed and the community is behind it, as is evidenced by the media stories in newspapers and on the radio.

It’s heart-warming to see how much footy means to people, and the chance to have a go is a thrill many people take for granted.

Here’s Liz Symes’ summary of Kickability Bathurst’s presentation day: “I get so much satisfaction and enjoyment from seeing these kids achieve. The smiles on the faces of the kids on presentation day, and the excitement of getting a medal for sport, and wearing the jersey and getting a little AFL ball. It’s just amazing. I’ll be honest, I cried.”

With a reaction like that, it’s obvious to see why Symes and the local disability service providers believe this program may attract upwards of 100 participants in upcoming seasons.

Anyone interested in starting Kickability at your club can reach out to for more information.

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