Football Australia has launched ParaMatildas ©Football Australia

Football Australia has announced the launch of their first national women’s team for players with cerebral palsy (CP), acquired brain injury (ABI) and symptoms of stroke.

The organisation said the team, which will be known as the ParaMatildas, are a first in the Asia-Pacific region.

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said the establishment of the team helps to offer the same pathways for both women and men.

Johnson said next year’s hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup would help to create a world-class programme for the ParaMatildas team.

"Today is a momentous occasion for Football Australia as we celebrate the inclusion of the ParaMatildas in the Australian football family," said Johnson.

"With the launch of the ParaMatildas we are closing the gap in Australian football and ensuring that women and girls have the same pathways as men and boys in our game.

"This announcement is the result of years of incredible commitment, hard work and belief from many people in our football community, and it will be transformative for our All Abilities programs."

"With Australia co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in 500 days, and as a global leader in women’s football, we now plan to leverage this milestone event to develop a sustainable, world-class ParaMatildas programme.

"This will demonstrate to women and girls with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury or symptoms of stroke that football is a game which they can enjoy and excel, and that their achievements will be celebrated by an Australia that embraces diversity."

Football Australia say more than 2.2 million women and girls live with disability in the nation.

The ParaMatildas will compete at next month's IFCPF World Cup in Spain ©Football Australia
The ParaMatildas will compete at next month's IFCPF World Cup in Spain ©Football Australia

Around 700,000 Australians live with an ABI, while one in six Australians are considered likely to have a stroke in their lifetime.

Kelly Stirton, an All Abilities coach and programme coordinator, has been named head coach of the newly-formed team.

"As a head coach in the All Abilities space, this has been a dream of mine to be able to take a team at the national level," Stirton said.

"Being able to say I've coached an Australian team has been a dream because we now have a pathway created from young children to adults and the ability to say to players that they can represent their country.

"This team will stand proudly alongside their Commonwealth Bank Matildas teammates as iconic female footballers and that is an incredible visual that we are portraying as a sport."

The ParaMatildas will hold their first camp in April.

The team’s first tournament will be the inaugural International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football Women’s World Cup in Spain, which will take place from May 8 to 18.

Football Australia have invited the public to support the team by making a donation.

Donations will go directly to supporting national team training camps, coaching, sports science, and tournament costs.