FFA connects with KS Foundation for crunch Matildas qualifier

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is pleased to announce that it has collaborated with KS Foundation to host a sensory room at this Friday’s Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off between Australia and Vietnam.

KS Foundation, the brainchild of Newcastle Jets attacker Kaine Sheppard, has hosted nine sensory rooms in Newcastle for football fans on the spectrum throughout the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Regular Season, and on Sunday expanded interstate with their first Sensory Room held in partnership with Melbourne City FC at AAMI Park.

This Friday the initiative will grow once again, with Sheppard believing that the collaboration between his Foundation and FFA might be the first of its kind for an international fixture. 

“The Hyundai A-League has been great with jumping on board and sharing the story of why I started the Foundation, and sharing some stories of the families,” Sheppard explained.

“Being involved with FFA and this (Westfield) Matildas game is a massive step for us and I think this may be the first sensory room for a national team game in any sport around the world.

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“The Matildas are big around the world and FFA is going for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, so I think this is another way to add diversity and engage the community,” he said.

Westfield Matildas star Kyah Simon joined Sheppard at McDonald Jones Stadium this morning to throw her support behind the initiative.

Simon, who recently won the Westfield W-League Premiership with her club Melbourne City FC, has a nephew with autism, and he will be among those in attendance in the sensory room on Friday. 

“I am delighted to support the KS Foundation and their hosting of sensory room at the Matildas match on Friday as it is a cause that is close to my heart,” Simon said.

“I am really passionate about providing safe and inclusive environments, especially with my nephew Trey having autism.

“Obviously my family are my biggest supporters and my sister Sarah and Trey try to come to every match they can.

“I know what a difference it will make having a sensory room where he feels settled and can stay for the full 90 mins as the atmosphere isn’t too overwhelming.

“It makes me feel pleased that through the KS Foundation, Sarah and Trey can now support me from a safe Autism friendly environment.”

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Westfield Matildas star Kyah Simon with her nephew Trey
Westfield Matildas star Kyah Simon with her nephew Trey

Sheppard added he was proud to have the support of the Matildas, including Simon who he has been communicating with regularly about the project over the past few months.

“Having someone like Kyah (Simon) help us and show her support is massive, and being something close to her heart is awesome,” Sheppard added. “She’s a great player and has a big reach, so together hopefully we can make more people aware of autism.” 

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Forty fans and their friends and families will enjoy Friday’s crunch qualifier from the sensory room at McDonald Jones Stadium, with Sheppard revealing that his database snapped up the complimentary tickets in record time when he reached out to them a week ago.

“I sent out the e-mail for the room at 11am and it was fully booked by 2pm so I think it is going to be a great success,” he said.

Kick-off on Friday evening is at 6.30pm (AEDT) with tickets available from www.matildas.com.au.

The game will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC iview (delayed on ABC TV) and the My Football Live App.

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Kyah Simon and Kaine Sheppard

Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off Round

Australia v Vietnam (Home Leg)
Date: Friday, 6 March 2020
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Tickets: www.matildas.com.au
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, ABC iview (delayed on ABC TV) and the My Football Live App 
​​​​​​​The match will also be streamed LIVE on YouTube for viewers outside of Australia and Vietnam