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Auslan Auskick players take to the 'G

Eleven-year-old Malachi Kruse takes to the MCG with an Auslan interpreter

The NAB AFL Auskick program encourages everyone to get involved in a great community-minded sport, and prides itself on being inclusive of children with disabilities. South Melbourne District Sports Club's Auslan Auskick program highlighted this commitment when they took to the MCG at half-time during the recent Swans-Hawks match with their teams including two young deaf footballers and their Auslan interpreter – their own '#signguy'.

Eleven-year-old Malachi and 10-year-old Hasnath have been able to overcome communication barriers through using an Auslan interpreter to understand the coach's instructions. They had a fantastic time at the MCG and felt so proud being able to participate in the MCG with the rest of their team in front of such a huge crowd.

Hasnath has just joined the program which is supported by Deaf Children Australia. Having come from Sri Lanka with his dad Haroon two years ago, Hasnath had never seen Aussie rules football played when he was younger but many of the other boys play footy at his school. Deaf Children Australia organised footy gear and boots for Hasnath and helped him get involved.

Being profoundly deaf in Sri Lanka and not having any sign language, Hasnath faced significant communication barriers. He really didn't have a language. A lot has changed for Hasnath over the last two years. Since coming to Australia, he has learned Auslan and received a cochlear implant and hearing aid. He is learning to say a few words in Tamil and English. Hasnath's DCA family support worker Emma Gale says: "We saw the Auslan Auskick program as a way to help Hasnath learn a sport, be able to access the coaching in a language he understands, and connect with other children around his age." 

Hasnath's dad Haroon adds: "He likes to play Auslan Auskick. He was very excited going for the first time and asked for photos in his new uniform. This is the first time Hasnath is in a team sport outside school." 

Would your son or daughter like to learn to play footy but there are communication barriers holding them back too? If they are between five and 12 years of age and deaf or hard of hearing, bring them along to try Auslan Auskick. There is a small registration cost for Auskick but the Auslan interpreting is provided for free. The program runs each Saturday from 9am to 10.30am and is proudly supported by the City of Port Phillip, South Melbourne Districts Auskick and Active in Parks. For more information, email 

- Loretta Walshe, Deaf Children Australia