An inspirational visit

Melbourne Victory players have drawn inspiration from athletes with spinal cord injuries ahead of the inaugural TAC Independence Cup at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Melbourne Victory players have drawn inspiration from athletes with spinal cord injuries ahead of the inaugural TAC Independence Cup at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The TAC Independence Cup match will be played between Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners on November 17 to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people living with spinal cord injuries.

Aspiring Paralympian and national champion handcyclist Michael Taylor (pictured above with Melbourne Victory captain Adrian Leijer) was one of four wheelchair athletes to meet Melbourne Victory players ahead of the match.

“I ride about 60km a day training for the next handcycling event and it was a great privilege to share training insights with these elite athletes,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor took up handcycling after a car accident in 2003 left him in a wheelchair.

“Changing my outlook on life was one of the biggest challenges I faced after the accident, but I was determined to be independent,” Mr Taylor said.

The inaugural TAC Independence Cup coincides with Independence Australia's Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week, beginning Monday November 12.

As part of the week, Independence Australia is launching Steps for Independence, encouraging people to walk at noon on Friday 16 November, to raise awareness of the 12,000 Australians who cannot walk due to a spinal cord injury.

All funds raised during the week will support Independence Australia-s Psychology and Counselling service, which helps individuals and families overcome the trauma of a spinal cord injury.

The TAC Independence Cup match is part of the Transport Accident Commission-s (TAC) partnership with Melbourne Victory.

The partnership aims to highlight the cost of road trauma by taking the road safety message to Melbourne-s Victory-s fan base which is largely young males between the ages of 18-25 years.

There are currently about 12,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in Australia. Statistics show that 15-24 year olds are the group most likely to suffer from a spinal cord injury - 80% of these people are male.