Stage set for inspirational captain Barber to share moment with family

Pararoos captain David Barber is always out to inspire but, when he receives his 100th cap on Saturday, he will experience his own life-changing moment. 

In 99 international appearances, Barber has never once represented Australia in front of his dad or his kids. All that changes on Saturday when he becomes a Pararoos centurion.

Barber’s family are flying in from Rockhampton, Queensland, to watch the Pararoos’ first match on home soil since the 2000 Paralympic Games as the Green and Gold take on Canada at Cromer Park, Sydney.

The game, which kicks off at 5.30pm AEDT, will be a special occasion for Pararoos skipper Barber for so many reasons.

“To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement,” Barber said.

“I don’t usually get anxious or nervous, but even i’m a little bit nervous for this weekend.

“I can’t wait to play in front of my family and friends. My brother hasn’t seen me play in 20 years.

“My dad has never seen me play, my kids have never seen me play, and they are coming down [from Rockhampton]. I’m really, really excited.”


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Barber’s children, Isabelle (11), Lucas (8), Spencer (5) will watch their dad become the 11th Australian international football player to reach the illustrious 100 cap mark.

In men’s football, only Caltex Socceroos greats Mark Schwarzer and Tim Cahill, along with Barber’s long-time teammate Chris Pyne have earned that remarkable achievement.

“Schwarzy and Timmy are guys that I’d idolised and Pyney has been my teammate forever,” Barber said.

“I look up to [Pyne] as much as he looks up to me. He’s done it the hard way and the right way the whole time. 

“It’s never been easy for any of our players. To be the 11th overall and fourth male player to do it, I’m tremendously proud. 

“Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling for others to make that milestone as well and teach them to how to look after your body and play good football for a long time.”


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Recreating the magic of the Paralympics

It has been more than 19 years since the Harbour City was illuminated by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

At the time, Barber never imagined it would take this long before he stepped out on to hallowed Australian turf in the Green and Gold once again.

“Sydney 2000 is some of my favourite memories of all time,” he said. 

“The experience, the energy, the passion that was around it.

“The occasion, the enormousness of what it was, we never realised how special it was until it was all finished and you think ‘wow, that was really something’. 

Cromer Park, on Sydney's northern beaches, will host the match between the Pararoos and Canada on Saturday, 30 November.

“To try and rekindle that this weekend at Cromer Park up in Manly is going to be a lot of fun. 

“I really hope a lot of people get behind it, because I think they will enjoy it too.”

Cromer Park will play host to a celebration of a generation of Pararoos and the emergence of those who will carry the torch into the new era.

For that reason, in Barber’s mind, it’s all the more poignant.

“Every international match that you play is special,” Barber adds.

“ The chance to do it here. It could be the last game you play. 

“You never really know what’s going to happen in football, what’s going to happen in life. 

“It’s a matter of accepting how special it is, understanding it and cherishing it because – blink – and you might miss it.”


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Inspiring the next generation

When not training to be an elite athlete, Barber works shifts teaching staff how to drive coal trains in Central Queensland.

It may be a far cry away from the life of a professional footballer, but the responsibilities are just as important, if not more.

“There are so many people out there with cerebral palsy and acquired brain injuries that could never experience what we get to do,” Barber said.

“First of all, you have to appreciate how lucky we are just to have mobility and the ability to play football to start with, never mind to play football at an elite level.

“Then you add on how special it is to play for your country, factor that on top of playing at home in front of all these people that, not only you know, but out there might be the next kid that going to go on and captain Australia.

“I met Benny Roche in the crowd at the Sydney Paralympics. He went on to be an Australia vice-captain many years later.

“The next Pararoos captain could be sitting there in the stands watching us.”

“It’s a chance to react out to every kid that’s there. Even the adults that have a disability, that football could be an opportunity to show what they can be.

“Any chance you get to change someone’s life. You don’t have to reach the world to change the world. 

“If you can reach one person and change their life, that’s the world to them and all the people around them.

“Recognising we have the platform to do that here, at a home game, it’s enormous. 

“I want our guys to really appreciate and treasure that because you never know who is watching.”


If you have never seen CP Football...

CP Football is a seven-a-side sport is made up of players with cerebral palsy, an acquired brain-injury or symptoms resulting from a stroke, and all money raised from this unique fixture helps fund the Pararoos’ travel to overseas competitions.

After finishing 11th in the 2019 IFCPF CP Football World Championships back in Spain back in July, the Pararoos are already looking ahead to the 2021 tournament.

To qualify, it will take another trip to Spain in 2020 and the Canada contest is crucial to funding their participation. 

Head coach Kai Lammert and his side wrapped up the 2019 competition with a 4-2 win against Saturday’s opponents Canada and Barber insists that, for anybody who has not seen CP Football, it will be an eye-opener.

“Technically and tactically, they will see football at a very high level,” he said.

“We’re playing against an opponent who is ranked very similar to us internationally. We played very recently in a close 4-2 game that was 2-2 at half-time, so it could have gone either way.

“Historically, they have had the better of us over the last 10 years but our squad is in a place right now where it is trending upwards so I like our chances.

“If you you’ve never seen it before. It’s faster than you think. There’s a lot of energy, a lot of emotion on the field.” 

“The skill level, technique and capacity of the players is amazing.

“For us to show people what we’re capable of. They are going to be pleasantly surprised. 

“It’s an amazing sport, it’s entertaining, it’s fast. We love what we do, there’s a reason we love it and I reason I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

“It’s the best sport in the world and I’m looking forward to bringing that to everybody watching.”


Pararoos v Canada

Date: Saturday, 30 November 2019
Venue: Cromer Park (South Creek Road, Cromer, NSW)
Kick-off: 5.30pm AEDT
Tickets: Tickets on sale now via (100 per cent of ticket sales invested back into the Pararoos) 

Can’t make it to the game? You can make tax-deductible donations at