Paulo De Nobrega: Sutherland Titans Football Club
There’s a different kind of football magic when the Titans take the field
Something magical happens when the Sutherland Titans Football Club teams play another local club.
It’s no ordinary match. It shines a different light on the competitive game of soccer, says Paulo De Nobrega, coach and manager of the club, which caters for people with special needs.
The players love getting out on the field for the club, which was started in 2005 by a group of parents with the support of the Sutherland Shire Football Association.
Their opponents every Saturday of the season are association teams that have a bye that weekend.
Players of all ages and varying ability are welcome. Some rely on a volunteer buddy to help them navigate the field.
It’s a unique system, says Paulo. “Buddies have special dispensation as they are the only people allowed on the field other than officials and players.”
And it’s not only the Titans players who benefit, says Paulo. It can be a humbling experience for the members of the other teams.
“Their players benefit by understanding that the game can be much more than winning and more about bringing a smile to a child that scores a goal or is able to feel good about being part of a team.
“It’s about giving kids all round a go,” says Paulo, two of whose sons are on the autism spectrum and play for the club.
To him, some of the most heart-warming moments come from seeing the senior Titans players mentor the juniors.
“The pivotal moment is when I see the seniors arrive early, before their game, to help the junior kids. They do this without being asked. That just says so much about the heart of the players who play for the Titans.”
Paulo says it feels awesome to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “Not for me, more for our club.”
The Titans will use $10,000 Westfield grant to buy equipment. Paulo has helped bring in sponsorship to cover uniforms and water bottles. But, he says: “We’ve got so many equipment gaps. Little things that other clubs take for granted.”