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Tim’s experience of inclusion has inspired him to pay it forward

Tim Palmer has been passionate about football his whole life—and he’s become just as passionate about being able to help others access the sport that he loves.
Tim standing side-on outside throwing a soccer ball into the air. His cochlear implant is visible
  • Hearing

Tim Palmer has been passionate about football his whole life—and he’s become just as passionate about being able to help others access the sport that he loves.

Tim is the technical director at North West Sydney Spirit Football Club, where he works on player development and has a particular focus on inclusion. He’s also an assistant coach for the Pararoos, helping people with cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury increase their participation in sport, and realise their own potential to shine.

Tim, 29, has a deep understanding of how powerful inclusion can be.

At age two, he was one of the youngest children in the world at the time to receive a cochlear implant, after being born with profound hearing loss. He now wears bilateral implants (in both ears) and spent his early years working with NextSense specialist staff, then attending our Preschool, and receiving support later in mainstream education to develop speech and language at a rate to match his hearing peers.

"I have really strong memories of spending time with and being supported by the NextSense therapists", Tim says. "And I have a lot of memories of preschool and being surrounded by others with hearing loss and also children with vision impairment. This environment really helped when I went to school, where often I was the only person with hearing loss—but I was comfortable expressing my identity. The whole experience really set me up for life."

I was surrounded by people who always had a lot of time and effort for someone like me. They were great role models for me and have inspired me to be similar for other people. You can get a lot of joy out of it.

— Tim

Tim has gone on to excel on many fronts. He’s a Sports Science honours graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, has achieved a Master of Education (Sports Coaching) degree from Sydney University and spent six years as a lecturer.

And his supportive family—his parents Alex and Mandy and brother Sam—have been with him every step of the way. His mum Mandy, a teacher, was inspired to retrain as a Teacher of the Deaf went on to complete the NextSense Master of Disability Studies program, which we now deliver in partnership with Macquarie University.

For Tim, the reward in helping others is in unlocking their potential. And for those with a disability, this is even more satisfying. He recalls one young footballer in particular who has been training since age 14.

Now 19, he has begun to embrace body building is about to head into the football workforce himself and is a key player in the Pararoos team.

“It has helped him grow a lot as an athlete and it has all come together for him—he is proud of his body and he will now work in football—that is really fun to see,” he says.

It’s not just about participation in sport, it’s about showing these kids they can be great athletes. The physical, social and emotional benefits of sport are so important – I see that in myself and in others.

— Tim

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Early Intervention—hearing

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