Allan Sarago Ah Kee is all about making a difference.
As a youngster, he was told he would never be able to play sport. He has gone on to participate in 10 National CP (Cerebral Palsy) Championships.
And earlier this year he was a member of the unfancied Gold Fields WA State Paras side that won a silver medal at the nationals.
Now the 23-year-old wants to use his role as Football West’s new Community Engagement Ambassador to encourage youngsters to get the most from their talents.
“The role is about helping develop/promote football in the inclusion space,” Allan said.
“At the moment I’m getting a kick out of summer futsal. On Sunday mornings we are at Cockburn City where we have a good number, juniors as well. Then on Sunday afternoons we’re at Maccabi in Yokine, in the school gym.
“I like to think that with my background as a player, I’m someone the kids can look up to as a role model.
“I want to give kids the opportunity to achieve their goals. It makes me realise I’m not really working. I don’t class it as work, I’m really enjoy coaching and getting engaged.
“When they go home, I want them to say, ‘I learnt this today’, or ‘Allan taught me this’ … it’s a little thing but something they can build on.”
Allan’s achievements and resilience certainly make him someone to look up to.
“I’ve represented three different states, been to 10 national championships, I’m proud of that,” he said.
“I’m from Queensland, started in 2009 with the and went through to 2016. Then one year off before I played for ACT 2017 then been with WA last two national championships.
“This is despite being told as a kid that I wouldn’t be able to play sport. So, to be able to achieve what I’ve achieved, it’s quite humbling. It makes you realise nothing’s impossible, that’s what I want to get these kids to realise.”
Aside from his role as an engagement ambassador, Allan has an internship with Wesfarmers and is studying politics as a mature-age student at UWA.
“It’s about increasing my capacity to communicate, talking to managers high up with the internship, then switch at the weekend when I communicate to the kids.
“I really want to work on making it better for me on a personal and professional level … if you can’t communicate to your mates and you can’t communicate to your girlfriend, you might not have either pretty soon!”
The growth of CP 7-a-side football was captured brilliantly in Tom Ferguson’s documentary ‘The Pararoos’, which followed Australia’s only national football team for players with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury or stroke on their journey to the 2017 World Cup in Argentina.
Last Saturday, the Pararoos played their first game on home soil in 19 years when they defeated Canada 5-0. Albany’s Connor Bunce scored two and Allan believes the 16-year-old has a very bright future.
“Give him about three or four years he’ll be even better, he’ll be just scary,” Allan said.
Connor claimed the Golden Boot at the National CP Championships in October, a tournament where WA defied the odds to finish second.
“We over-delivered, I think, we just scrapped and scrapped and we proved a lot of people wrong,” Allan, a right-sided midfielder, said.
“I think Victoria thought they just had to rock up in that game to make the final and we really stuffed it to them. And that was a really gritty win, a lot of heart in that. That was the highlight of the national championships, that win.”
Football West Community Football Manager Sarah Du Plessis said: “Football West is delighted to have Allan as our new Community Engagement Ambassador. He has achieved excellence both on and off the pitch as a player, leader and role model.
“The commitment and dedication Allan has to encourage others to pursue their ambitions and achieve the most from their talents in our game and community will be invaluable.”