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Watch: Ħamrun Ħanin launch unique shirt to mark World Autism Awareness Day

Jacob Fava (right) explains how he designed the unique shirt in the presence of player Ryan Camenzuli centre) and Ian Debtattista. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Ħamrun Spartans players to wear unique shirt during Trophy quarter-final clash against Birkirkara

Ħamrun Spartans FC and Ħamrun Ħanin, in collaboration with the Autism Parents Association, have launched a unique initiative to mark International World Autism Awareness Day, celebrated globally on April 2.

The event will reach its culmination on Saturday, March 30, when Ħamrun Spartans face Birkirkara in the FA Trophy quarter-final at the National Stadium.

On this occasion, the Spartans will wear a special jersey designed by Jacob Fava, a nine-year-old child with autism. Every Ħamrun Spartans player will sign the shirt they will be wearing, creating a unique collectors item that will be auctioned off to the delight of football fans.

During a press launch, Ħamrun Spartans FC vice-president Gejtu Debattista explained how this initiative is part of the club’s objective to excel on three fronts – the sporting aspect, commercial, and social dimensions.

“We are really proud to be involved in this initiative,” Gejtu Debattista said.

“This event has offered a unique team-building experience as it involved all the club’s management, technical staff, players and the numerous voluntary members who support it on a daily basis.”

Details of the initiative were then shared by Ħamrun Ħanin chairman Ian Debattista. “The experience of the past three years of existence of our voluntary organisation has demonstrated that football can truly create a bigger impact in raising awareness and in striving for better communities,” he said.

Ian Debattista said that although the culmination will be reached in the Birkirkara match, a number of ancillary activities have been held to raise funds for the autism community, with the organisations’ final objective being the setting up of a Multi-Sensory Room in Ħamrun.

Valerie Brincat, on behalf of the Autism Parents Association, said: “Inclusion is about offering the same activities to everyone, while providing support and services to accommodate people’s differences. Inclusion is to actively reach out to people with different abilities and seek to understand and appreciate their differences, while fostering a sense of belonging”.

Brincat said that inclusion in employment, education, recreational and community settings like sports is a basic element of human rights.

“Hence, if a person on the autism spectrum shows the desire to play football,  a sport that he loves… then he has a right to participate in the sport. Ultimately, the foremost imperative thing about inclusion, is that it recognizes and respects the fundamental value of every person,” she concluded.

On his part, Ħamrun Spartans player Ryan Camenzuli shared his and his teammates’ enthusiasm towards this cause, expressing satisfaction at the opportunity to raise awareness of autism.

“We are proud to be associated with this unique celebration as we believe we can play a role in helping persons with autism be better equipped to face the challenges they face in their daily lives,” he said.

He encouraged football fans to take part in the auction for the signed jerseys, or purchase one of the celebratory t-shirts being made available for this event.

The auction is accessible on https://app.galabid.com/hhautismday2024, with users needing to register first.

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