Like many 18-year-olds, Daniel Campbell has a lot going on.
But like all young men, and women, his story is unique.
2021 is Daniel’s HSC year at Coffs Harbour High, and he’s also working part-time.
Nothing too out-of-the-box there.
Where his journey takes a twisting turn was with selection, again, in the National Pararoos.
The Pararoos are Australia’s Paralympic football team, comprising players who have cerebral palsy (CP), an acquired brain injury or had a stroke.
Daniel has just completed a camp in Sydney with the squad, and on the back of COVID restrictions in the Big Smoke, is now under Stay At Home orders.
Like everything else life has thrown at the youngster, he’ll take that in his stride.
Daniel was born in Ethiopia and travelled to Australia at the age of six months with his adoptive family.
“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 learned to adjust and adapt,” Daniel told the Pararoos website.
“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.”
Even in North Coast Football, Daniel’s story of challenge and achievement is not well known, and while he remains humble, his journey is inspiring for those with a disability and the wider community.
The youngster is well recognised as a talented football player – coming through the NPL ranks and now linking with the Coffs Coast Tigers in the Coastal Premier League.
Daniel’s first call into a Pararoos training camp came in 2018 – and he hasn’t looked back.
As a national Paralympic representative, he played in the US and Iran in 2018, and the World Cup in Spain the year after.
A tournament in Barcelona in 2020 was canned due to COVID, and Daniel’s mum, Ann Crampton, said the current plan is for the World Cup to now be played in April-May next year in Spain.
Daniel will certainly be up for the challenge in a branch of the sport that basically has to fund itself.
Part of the recent camp at North Sydney included a 24-hour virtual fundraiser.
“They raised $40,000 in a day which is astonishing. And they have a donor who will match it dollar-for-dollar, so that’s $80,000,” Ann said.
“In Australia it is difficult compared to the Ukraine and Russia, the US … where players are paid to play and they have professional competitions.”
Daniel is at “the top of the game” in seven-a-side Paralympic football where he plays in the midfield, while locally he shines in the backs for the Tigers with and against able-bodied athletes.
For Daniel it’s all about playing a sport he loves, and taking opportunities as they present.
“Representing my country was something I had always dreamed of, and was such a huge, indescribable honour,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
Image: Daniel Campbell flying the flag for Australia at the World Cup.
To make a donation and for more information on the Pararoos ‘Undefeated Giving Day’, click below.