SOME might say a meeting between Michael Penhaligon and rugby enthusiast Andrew Ferry was simply a coincidence.
Mr Penhaligon prefers to believe it was fate.
The Southern Lions Rugby Union Club president was recently contacted by Mr Ferry after he hit roadblocks searching for a club that would accommodate players with a disability.
By contacting the Success-based Lions, Mr Ferry’s persistence saw him arrive at the right place.
Besides rugby, Mr Penhaligon’s other passion has been working with people with disabilities.
The semi-retiree has more than four decades experience in this field, including a long stint as head of the Education Support Centre at Corpus Christi College.
Together the pair got to work establishing an all-abilities rugby union side, the first of its kind in WA.
The current target group is people over 16 years of age who are able bodied and who have an intellectual challenge, but Mr Penhaligon said the possibilities were limitless once it was off the ground.
“At first the team will play matches against others from within the club however I believe the game will grow within the state and other clubs will take up the challenge,” he said.
“Other teams have been established in eastern Australia and throughout the world.
“Touring with the team is not beyond the realms of possibility.”
The program already has three registered players.
“The Southern Lions Club prides itself on being a family and community club,” Mr Penhaligon said.
“There are people within our broader community who are marginalised who would like to play the ‘game they play in heaven’.
“People with disabilities are one of those groups.
“This program will give them and their families a sporting and social outlet with benefits for them as well as our rugby community.”
Mr Ferry (22) has played football but said he fell in love with rugby in high school.
“The club is giving people with disability the chance to play rugby that they don’t have,” he said.
“Come down. You don’t have to sign up yet. Come down and have a look.”
For information contact Mike Penhaligon on 0439 845 867 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.