The Dyldam Parramatta Eels partner with Try Time Junior Rugly League, an inclusive junior rugby league program for people with special needs and intellectual disabilities, with both junior and senior teams playing every weekend in the Parramatta Junior Rugby League.
As part of the launch of the partnership, the Eels players took part in a touch football game with over 20 Try Time participants.
"The program has been developed around people that have special needs and intellectual disabilities and that ranges from people with autism, down syndrome, developmental delay, vision impairment. We have some cerebral palsy people in there as well, and it's all about giving them an opportunity to play rugby league on a regular basis." Try Time Director Darren Deitz said of the program.
"This is our fourth year, with about 65 people playing in the Parramatta District particularly at Wenty Leagues and about 30 playing in the Penrith District as well."
"This [the touch football game] is why they play the game. They have a lot of idols out there, and for them, it is a lifetime opportunity for them to get out there and have a game with their idols," Deitz added.
The joint Partnership Program between the Eels and Try Time will play an important role moving forward around awareness and participation throughout the Parramatta Junior Rugly League district.
"They have been a fantastic fit on just being able to include everyone, whether they have special needs or not, they follow the game," Manager PJRL Matt Brady said.
"To be able to see them get out on the field and play on a weekend, against other teams within the junior league has been fantastic. Not only for their development, but the development and inclusion of being accepted as a whole.”
“Teams love to play against them, it’s amazing to watch, and they constantly keep asking us when do we get to play them again so it’s been a fantastic fit and I couldn’t be happier for Darren and Try Time to become part of the Parramatta Junior Rugby League” Brady added.
The partnership will also play an important role in the Eels community pillars and have further mutually beneficial opportunities.
“The Parramatta Eels have undertaken a fair bit of research into how we want to clearly define our community pillars into 2016 and beyond and we have come to the conclusion that social inclusion is a key priority for us,” Manager Community Development & Engagement Michael Basan said.
“Partnering with an organisation like Try Time we believe will have some mutually beneficial outcomes. Try Time are already involved in our Junior Rugby League competition with the Parramatta District so we are looking to expand on that and give them some opportunities on game day and further integration into the junior competition.” He added.