Meet some of our fantastic community members

Chris Johnstone

Chris is 21 and started playing football at Lynwood United Football Club when he was 12. When he was 16 he moved from general boys football to Equal Footingball (EF). As someone with a self-described Mild Intellectual Disability he felt he fitted more comfortably in this area and now plays for the senior Lynwood United team in Division 1. His outstanding performances have also earned him a place in the Special Olympics WA State Team that has played at the National Games in Tasmania (2022), Adelaide (2018) and Gold Coast (2017 Junior National Games). He is also part of the SOWA Athlete Leadership Program.

His passion for football is not limited to playing and he regularly referees matches at the Under 13 and 14 level. His ambition is to become an A League referee and to reach this goal he attends courses, lectures, quizzes, pre-game briefings and post-game de- briefings with other referees as he learns to improve and broaden his refereeing skills.

You may also see him working at Bunnings but he always tries to get shifts that fit in with his football plans be it refereeing or playing.

Chris aims to be an Ambassador and inspiration for disabled people who have a desire to participate in football. In this role Chris is strongly supported by his mum Antonia and dad Greg and their pride in his achievements shines through when they speak about him, especially that he has represented his State in Special Olympics and Equal Footingball (EF) in three different Australian States.

‘I believe in inclusion up to a certain point’ Antonia says ‘but sometimes it is better to let players with a disability play at their own level. There is a small league of clubs that have EF teams including Tuart Hill, Cockburn, Western Knights, Kalamunda as well as Lynwood and although it is competitive it goes deeper than that and all of us parents of all of the teams are like our own little club. We are like a family – we all care about are our kids.’

This was born out in the games that I watched. While there was the usual celebrations you see when any player scores a goal there was the far more unusual care from players of both teams if a player got hurt during play. It was heart-warming to witness.

–  Written by Tom Jeffcote


Photo by Tom Jeffcote

Sauda Omar

Sauda has initiated and organises the Northern City FC Girls Squad which provides the opportunity for young women to play football on Thursday evenings in Mirrabooka.

The girls who take part in this evening football do not play in a regular league. This is due to a range of factors specific to each individual, from not being able to commit to rigid training sessions and weekend matches offered by clubs, to not feeling accommodated and comfortable.  Sauda explains that the majority of the group are young Muslim women and young girls of ethnic backgrounds, acknowledging that sometimes there can be barriers that prevent a fuller participation, impacting their availability to play football. Therefore, the environment that is created for the girls, is one where they feel comfortable and not pressured. The formation of this group allows the freedom to play a game they love while respecting the parameters of other priorities in their life, such as studies, work and assisting their families. Its popularity is reflected in the growth of the group from 2 players to 26 players in five months.

Sauda’s family is from Somalia and she was born in a refugee camp in Kenya before arriving in Australia with her family as a two year old.

Her links with football are a bit unusual. Her six brothers and five sisters have all played or are playing football as well as her dad who played in Somalia. Sauda preferred the more individual sport of Karate but in watching the many football games she has seen she could witness what it means, especially to young people.

‘It is beautiful to watch and witness the enjoyment of participants and the development of leadership within the playing group’ Sauda says.

Her aim is to ‘lead a pathway and leave a footprint in allowing girls to enjoy the beautiful game on their own terms’.

Her dedication in this regard is obvious from the moment she speaks, and she concludes our meeting by saying ‘Northern City FC is a club that has so many stories and I am proud to be part of their endeavour to leave a legacy and empower people to enjoy the beautiful game and lead a fuller life through it.’

–  Written by Tom Jeffcote


Photo by Tom Jeffcote

Miguel Marcelino

‘This is the one I’m most proud of’ Miguel says when I ask him to choose a track suit from his large collection for a photo. It is the first one he was ever presented with and occurred in 1992 when playing indoor football for Australia at the Paralympics in Madrid.

He changes and stands in front of the framed shirt he wore and medal he won playing for Australia at the Far East and South Pacific Games for Disabled held in Kuala Lumpur some years later in 2006.

Miguel has collected many awards playing football for Australia over a number of years.

His football journey began back in Portugal where he was born and played football in the streets and parks of Lisbon. At 15 he migrated with his family to Perth and played indoor football at the Sampson Recreation Centre. It was from there that a talent scout from Sydney invited him to travel to the Eastern States to train with the national paralympic team. The cost of the necessary travel fares were covered by Miguel with the help of his mum and dad and some fund raising. He also joined the Carlisle and later Bibra Lake league teams to further develop his skills and he became the only player from W.A. to make the national Paralympic team.

When the Paralympics were held in Sydney in 2000 Miguel had the rare distinction of being featured on an Australian stamp.

During the day Miguel works at Curtin University for the catering division and if you visit you might see him driving round the campus with his mobile food cart selling food to students when he is not involved in other catering duties.

Miguel still plays football as well as assisting younger players in training and although he has represented Australia many times the first time he represented Western Australia was only recently in 2022 at the National Para Football Championships on the Gold Coast, scoring a goal at the age of 51 and winning a bronze medal.

Little known fact: Miguel was selected to represent Australia at two sports at the Paralympics in Spain in 1992 – football and running. The rules were such that he was only allowed to compete in one and chose football.

–  Written by Tom Jeffcote