Living with an acquired brain injury has motivated, rather than discouraged, Daniel Perinich in his mission to achieve on and off the football pitch.
While many students are counting the days until the end of semester and an unsettling year of remote learning, the Australian Catholic University undergraduate is pining for a return to lectures.
The combination of football and tertiary study at the Strathfield Campus has provided Daniel with a sense of purpose, community and joy and he hopes for a more communal experience as coronavirus restrictions ease further in 2021.
“Obviously with COVID-19 it’s been a challenge and I do wish I could have been on campus more,” he said.
“The short time I’ve been on campus has been great for meeting people and building connections. It’s so much more enjoyable than online classes.
“I definitely hope there’s more face-to-face time next year.”
Dealing with online learning and other complications imposed by the global pandemic is nothing compared to the heartbreak of losing his younger brother Sam in a horrific car crash in 2010.
The accident left him with an acquired brain injury but it did not diminish his spirit.
Daniel’s passion for soccer, a game he fell in love with as a six-year-old growing up in western Sydney, endured and he found a home this year at ACU FC.
“What happened drives me to keep improving, not only my football but to keep kicking on in all parts of my life,” the 19-year-old said.
“Anytime I score a goal I point to the sky (and think) that’s for Sam.”
ACU FC is an inclusive club playing in the Canterbury District Soccer Football Association.
Daniel barely missed a session while juggling first year study in his Bachelor of Business Administration course and training commitments with the NSW Pararoos Football Squad.
“The guys I play with are great and have been very welcoming,” he said.
Daniel’s brain injury has left him with limited peripheral vision on his left side so the coach has entrusted him with a key role on the left wing.
“Daniel’s an inspiration to his teammates,” ACU FC president Ashleigh Campbell said.
“ACU FC aims to provide in an inclusive environment and looks to develop players on and off the football pitch. “We welcome players of all skills and abilities to take part in our club and community.”