Midfield Daniel Campbell
- D.O.B. 25/1/03
- Born Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
PARAROOS CAP NUMBER: 53
DEBUT: 19/07/2018 v USA
My name is Daniel. I am 16 years old. I have Cerebral Palsy. And I am a Pararoo.
I have come to represent my country at such a young age and to be playing the game that I love and am so passionate about.
I was born in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and travelled to Australia with my adoptive family when I was 6 months old.
I grew up with the beach as my backyard and have been kicking a football since I could walk. For me, there is no other sport. I live it – I breathe it.
Growing up – I fell over a lot, I was always tripping on things , I had spasms in my legs ,I walked on my toes. I discovered early on that If I ran – I could be on my toes and I wouldn’t fall over. There were certain things I couldn’t do – but I leant to adjust and adapt.
When I was four – I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy which affects both my legs. Which can be a bit of a disadvantage for a football player. How CP affects my legs is not always obvious to those around me.
I started playing small sided football when I was 5. I was selected into the local Junior Development Programme when I was 9 and participated in the Skills Acquisition Programme until I was 12. As I started getting older I found that it was harder to keep up with my able bodied team mates – I didn’t have the speed off the mark – I didn’t have the power in my kicks – I fatigued faster and I was still falling over at times. There were times when my legs just wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do.
Whilst playing football I also had treatment for my legs. This involved lots of physiotherapy, wearing AFO’s to support my legs and encourage stretching of my Achilles tendons. I have also had Botox injections and plaster casting to further stretch my Achilles tendons.
When I was 13 I missed out on selection for the representative team. This was very disappointing for me – but it made me consider if I may have a future in Paralympic Football. I attended my first NSW Paralympic training camp that year. Under the guidance of my coaches Bill and Ian and the support of my NSW team mates I discovered a side of football I had never known.
When I was 14 I was selected in the NSW squad to play in the 2017 National Championships. Playing for my state was an amazing experience and started me on a path to play for my country.
Playing in Nationals provided me with the opportunity to be selected to attend the Pararoos training camp at the start of 2018.
In July last year I was selected as a member of the 14 man Pararoos squad which travelled to the USA for three friendly matches against USA and Canada.
Representing my country was something I had always dreamed of, and was such a huge, indescribable honour.
My first cap for Australia was in the game against USA and it is a moment I will never forget- I came on as a sub and played for 20 minutes.
Playing in the USA was an amazing opportunity and provided me and my team mates with invaluable experience competing against high ranking international teams. Playing hard competitors is something we don’t get to do very often and makes us a better team.
In October 2018 I made selection again for the NSW team in the National Championships. I am happy to say that NSW won in a hard battle against Victoria. I was awarded Player of the Tournament. An award that I am proud to share with my coaches and NSW team mates.
In November 2018 I was selected for the Pararoos team to compete in the Asia Cup which was held in Kish Island Iran. All of the team had trained and worked hard to earn selection. Under the guidance of our coaches Kai, Goran and Mike – we achieved success and finished second to Iran. This result gave us automatic qualification for the World Cup in Spain this year.
2018 was an amazing year for me. But a major highlight of my year – was when I was awarded “Young Pararoo of the Year”. It was an honour to receive such this award, and I was very humbled to receive it in my first year as a Pararoo.
I am grateful to Kai Lammert and the coaching staff for having the faith in me and for giving me the opportunity to be part of the National Squad. This award was also an acknowledgement to my family, my coaches and my team mates - in both Paralympic and able bodied football who have supported me over the years since my first game of football when I was 5 years old.
I am so proud to be a Pararoo, and I am thankful to be a part of the Pararoos family. We support one another, encourage one another and inspire one another. My football journey has been different to some of my team mates – and my challenges to play the game that I love have been different. But we all share the common goal of representing our country and doing the best that we can and to show the world that Australia is an emerging force in world Paralympic football.
I have only been a member of the Pararoos for one year and already I have been provided with so many opportunities and experiences that I could not have imagined. I continue to train hard to improve my game and play my best so that I may continue to represent my country.
I believe that the Pararoos can do well in Spain. My hope is that one day the Pararoos will be recognised in the same way as the Socceroos and the Matildas are, that we will inspire younger generations of football players that “anything is possible”.