London calling for two Mackay men
Two Mackay disabled football players will have London on their mind when they compete in the world championships in the Netherlands in June.
Beau Menzies and Scott Kennedy were this week named in the 12-man squad for the seven-a-side tournament starting on June 10, in which Australia will be playing to quality for the London Paralympics in 2012.
Menzies, 27, who suffers from cerebral palsy, played in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics as a 16-year-old, and has been a member of the Australian squad for 12 years.
The world championships will be a triumph for Kennedy, 23, who came back from a stroke in 2008 to play this year for Queensland in the national championships at Adelaide, where they won a silver medal.
Menzies said qualifying for the Paralympics would be tough, with Australia up against some footballing giants including Holland, Brazil and Spain in their group.
Eight teams will compete at London, with two – Great Britain as the host nation and Beijing champions the Ukraine – already assured a spot.
Menzies said he was keen to repeat the experience of his first Paralympics.
"Playing at Sydney as a 16-year-old was a % remarkable experience for me," he said.
"To stand there and have the home crowd cheering for you was awesome."
Kennedy played for Lions’ premier division side prior to his stroke, which left him fighting for his life in a coma for 10 days, in hospital for 11 months and facing a lengthy rehabilitation.
He is now married to Kate, works full time as an electrician, and has been training hard with Menzies as part of the Australian squad.
The stroke has left the centre midfielder with paralysis of the left arm and leg, but he still plays in reserves for Lions, where Menzies is also a member.
Ideal Placements has been a strong supporter, providing him with sponsorships of $5000 over the past two years.
"Beau got hold of me (after the stroke) and said to trial for the Queensland team and from there we’ve gone on to make the national side," Kennedy said.
"That’s the main goal, to quality for the Paralympics," he said.