According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the national 7-a-side football team has had its federal government funding of AU$175,000 from the Australian Sports Commission cut entirely.
At the time the decision was made, the team was ranked tenth in the world. The Paralympic Games only have eight teams competing. Australian funding is traditionally tied to chances for the team or an individual to medal at the Paralympic or Olympic Games. According to the Sports Tally 2014 report published in April of this year, “The performance profile of para football suggests they are unlikely to qualify for Rio 2016. Discussions are underway between Football Federation Australian (FFA), AIS and APC.”
In contrast, the men’s and women’s able-bodied national team have a high performance budget of AU $2,300,000. Both teams have qualified for the FIFA World Cup, though the Socceroos were ranked 62nd in the world in June and were not considered serious contenders. The Matildas failed to qualify for the past two Olympic Games. The Australian Sports Commission increased funding to their programs in order to improve their chances of being competitive.
National team coach Paul Brown is very upset by the decision, telling the ABC, “Our funding for the Paralympic football program has basically been put on ice. I mean we have state programs all round the country but the national program is going to be no more because they just won’t continue with our funding. […] At a time where football is becoming more and more popular, and there’s thousands of kids out there with varying forms of CP and mild brain injury, they’re not going to have a Pararoos squad to aim for.”
The news means that it is possible that the national team may go inactive, while development of and participation in the sport happens only on a state wide level.