Opens external link in new window Posted in Front Page News , People of the SMJFL

In a fantastic result for the league and more importantly, the local community, Opens external link in new windowMurrumbeena Junior Football Club (MJFC) was announced the 2014 ‘Sports Organisation of the Year’ as part of the Opens external link in new windowDeaf Sports Australia (DSA) Awards, which were held in Melbourne in February.

MJFC defeated national sporting bodies, Hockey Australia and Deaf Golf Australia, who were named as runners up.

“Just to be nominated was a thrill in itself,” said a delighted club President, Blair Beamish. “To be recognised alongside national sporting organisations like Hockey Australia and Deaf Golf Australia is a massive honour and little old Murrumbeena is able to win the award, it’s just a great reward for a lot of people’s hard work.”

“We are very proud of what has been achieved with the provision of an interpreter for both of our hearing impaired boys. The initiative enabled them both to continue playing football within our club, and importantly, with their teammates. It is offered to all boys within our community. Winning the national award recognises the clubs achievement in breaking down barriers and sets a benchmark for all sports clubs around Australia. It’s rewarding to make a difference”

The Awards aim to celebrate any organisation, club or person who have gone above and beyond in promoting the assistance of Hearing Impaired sportspeople around the country. 

The MJFC employed an Auslan interpreter to assist two of their young players in the Under 17 team, Jerome Barbalace and Ian Cleasby.

In May last year MJFC had no connection with Deaf Australia whatsoever, but with a push from Jerome’s parents, a relationship began to form. Soon little things like registration forms and the like changed to make it easier for the club to assist with kids playing with a hearing impairment or any other disability. 

“It was great that Jerome’s parents made a push for something like this. Jerome has played with us all the way through juniors, but Under 17s footy is a bit more demanding and more coaching philosophy and communication go into game day so it made it more difficult for Jerome. The family have been tremendous volunteers around the club, with Dad, Frank, the team manager and runner for the Under 16s.”

“The committee was approached for the idea of employing an interpreter, which the club was more than happy to accommodate. Nothing like this had been done before at a suburban local team, but of course we were willing and really excited to help the boys in any way, said Blair Beamish.

The cost of an interpreter costs about $4000 a season for game days and almost $7000 for game days and training nights so it’s vital to have strong support from sponsors and local council community grants schemes.

MJFC have now become an example for other clubs to follow and Jerome’s Mum, Karen Barbalace said the Australian-first move had paid off for both boys and she hoped it would help kids from other clubs and leagues feel included.

“A lot of deaf children don’t get to play in a hearing team,’’ she said. “We’re so grateful to the club.’’


General Manager of Deaf Sports Australia, Garry West-Bail congratulated all organisations and clubs who excelled in helping hearing impaired athletes thrive.

“Every year it is an honour to award not only the athletes who are excelling in their chosen sport, but also those who are supporting and enabling the deaf and hard of hearing to achieve in sport,” he said. 

Blair and his committee are excited to continue the promotion of Auslan interpreters for his players and hope many other clubs will follow in their footsteps.

If you would like to donate or support the club in raising funds, please email Blair Beamish at 


Related Links