Capital Football’s Game Development Manager Kelly Stirton has been named Member Federation Female Coach of the Year at the 2020 rebel Female Football Awards ceremony this morning.
Kelly Stirton was the first-ever female head coach at the Cerebral Palsy National Championships last September and was the assistant coach for Canberra’s first Indigenous junior football team, the Koori Kangaroos, at the 2019 McDonald’s Kanga Cup.
Stirton has also developed Canberra United’s first All-Abilities Academy, which is set to be launched in the coming weeks. The 19 players in the Academy will train twice a week with accreditated coaches, providing a pathway for people with a disability.
Kelly said the opportunity to help change people’s lives spurred her passion for coaching.
“It is my goal to provide people with a disability with the opportunity to play football and to make them equal with everyone else,” she said. “They are no different from us. We are all human, we are all the same.
“Being able to help someone, who hasn’t had the opportunity before, to reach their goal is where my passion for game development comes from.
“It changes their lives and you can’t wipe the smile off their faces.”
Kelly said her award would not have been possible without the support she has have received from her fellow coaches and colleagues.
“This award wouldn’t be possible without Phil Booth, Scott O’Donell and Phil Brown who have been pushing for this and making sure each player is supported by Capital Football,” she said.
“Capital Football wants to support athletes with a disability 110 per cent, regardless of their ability on and off the pitch.
“We need to knock down every barrier so these athletes have a pathway.”
Despite her incredible 2019, Kelly said she wants to continue to learn and develop her coaching skills so she can continue to give back to her teams.
“For me personally, I want to become a better coach and learn new skills so I can give back to the players,” she said.
“It isn’t about me. I don’t care if these kids lose every game, I don’t care if they only want to train once a week.
“All I care about is giving them an option so they can achieve their dreams. I want to create opportunities for any race, any background, no matter who you are, regardless if you are able-body or you have a disability.”
Capital Football CEO Phil Brown said he could not think of anyone else more deserving of the award.
“This award is well-deserved recognition of the amazing work Kelly does in the ACT football community,” Mr Brown said. “Kelly is a dedicated and skilled employee and a relentless advocate for inclusion programs.
“Everyone at Capital Football is proud of her achievement and is appreciative of her contribution to the game.”