Representing Australia 54 times over 17 years is something not many people can boast, but Pararoos captain Ben Roche has achieved that and much more.
Roche continues to show all Australians that anything is possible, and more importantly he’s become a role model for people with Cerebral Palsy.
“When I meet families or hear from families with young kids with Cerebral Palsy there’s a moment where it clicks, they hear about it, they’re like, ‘this is awesome’,” Roche said when speaking to Pararoos.com.au.
“Whether they choose to play football, or they want to be a banker or whatever it may be, I think it’s about setting an example that anything is possible.”
The Pararoos were preparing to travel to Europe in June for the 2020 IFCPF Nations Cup, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the tournament has been postponed and pushed the Pararoos’ plans back twelve months.
Watch a feature with Benny Roche below!
“I think COVID’s turned out to be bigger than I first thought, and many people first thought. Initially when you hear it might interrupt your domestic camps or your international tournaments you kind of go, ‘oh yeah, we’ll see a little bit closer to it’ and you continue to prepare as best as possible. Then you see it halt everything for long periods of time,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a shock but you sort of have to take in in your stride. Everyone’s in the same boat; you kind of just have to roll with it.”
Pararoos strength and conditioning coach Tim Palmer built a website that covers all of the required training for the team including strength and conditioning, ball work, intervals and mental health support. Roche is grateful for the resources provided and is using this opportunity to push himself further than he has before.
“To have access to that from home was phenomenal and allowed everyone to be accountable and continue to work towards what our goals were,” Roche said.
“For me I really started to enjoy where I live and I’m really lucky to be in Lennox Head in northern NSW.”
“Had some fun doing some longer runs, which I’d never really done before over the headlands, hitting some PBs (personal best times) and just really enjoying that space. Not something I could have never imagined doing before, a few half marathons and things like that which is nice.”
During isolation he has been able to spend more time with his family, even including his children in his home garage workouts.
“[I am] finding lots of different things to lift up, whether it was my four-year-old daughter or my son, just finding different ways to adapt and keep moving.”
Roche lauded the connection the group has formed through constantly communicating with each other during this difficult time.
“We’re really lucky to have Kai our head coach who was the first on the phone to all of us to check our personal circumstances, to make sure we were financially okay, whatever it may be. To me that really sums up the kind of network we have.”
“Communication for the Pararoos has always been a big aspect of how we approach things. We’ve always spoken openly and honestly with each other. Always attempted to check in on one another, particularly through a difficult time like this the boys have obviously maintained that.”
Roche and Pararoos continue to work towards the IFCPF Nations Cup, which is likely to be held in June 2021.