Women’s Leadership in Sport – Meet Kellie Tait

Kellie Tait is the founder/coordinator of Access All Abilities (AAA) Sport Ballarat. AAA Sport Ballarat is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to provide introductory sporting programs for children with disabilities. The group gives local children the rare opportunity to participate in organised sport. AAA Sport Ballarat provides a tailored environment that promotes fun, friendship and a sense of belonging, which enables children to be part of a team as they develop their social, fine and gross motor skills. 

The group started in mid-2016 when local mother, Kellie, realised that there was not an AusKick program in Ballarat that was suitable for her son’s needs. Prior to this, Kellie and husband Brad had enrolled their son Cooper in a mainstream AusKick program. Cooper was diagnosed with autism two and a half years ago, and therefore found the mainstream AusKick program extremely challenging. Lack of one-on-one coaching and difficulty understanding the rather complex activities resulted in Cooper being bullied by the other children. This unfortunate situation sparked Kellie to reach out to Sports Central to discuss how an all abilities version of the program could be established in Ballarat. Kellie was asked if she would like to take on the coordinator role of the program, which she happily accepted. The program was a great success attracting 22 participants in its inaugural season. The program differed from mainstream programs, as there was a much greater focus on being physically active and enjoyment, rather than skill level. Kellie was then approached and accepted Cricket Victoria’s offer to run an all abilities Milo In2CRICKET program. From this point the group has continued to grow, with the launch of Mini-Roo’s (soccer) and NetSetGo (netball) programs.

Kellie says “the look on the parents’ faces” is the most enjoyable thing about being involved in AAA Sport Ballarat. Kellie explained that having a child with special needs takes up a lot of time and energy from parents. The program give parents the opportunity to sit on the sideline and watch their children have fun and enjoy themselves. They are able to obtain one hour of down time, which is a rare occurrence. Kellie also explained the enjoyment she gets from meeting extremely inspiring children, and providing them with the opportunity to play sport with their friends. “Sport is a great way for kids to learn to be social, share and take in turns” Kellie explained. “Therefore this program provides a great atmosphere and environment to do this”.

Kellie has encountered a few barriers to her programs success along the way. Ensuring the program has the funding to continue to operate has been a challenge for Kellie. Kellie takes on her role in a voluntary manner and at times has struggled with time management juggling the needs of her young family and the program. However Kellie praises the support of the community and Sports Central in making the program the success it has been to date. Kellie explained that the highlights certainly have outweighed the challenges. Over the last 12-16 months the amount of the success the program has achieved is extraordinary. The group has been lucky enough to be invited to participate in a cricket event at Etihad Stadium, and recently played an Auskick half time match at the first ever AFL game in Ballarat. The program has also been recognised at the state level, winning the Disability Sport and Recreation Award Initiative of the Year. Kellie was also awarded the Cricket Victoria Milo In2CRICKET Coordinator of the year and has recently been appointed as an ambassador for Cricket Australia to promote disability and inclusion within the sporting sector.

When Kellie was asked about what she would like to see females in sport doing in the future, her response was “whatever they want and to not have restrictions”. AAA Sports Ballarat have achieved tremendous success over the last 16 months, and Kellie encourages females to simply “have a go”.  “If you are passionate about something” Kellie stated, “then why not give it a try!”