Border Chronicle journalist Taylor Harvey has been selected to represent South Australia at this week's National CP (Cerebral Palsy) Football Championships at Sydney's Valentine Sports Park.
The carnival will run from October 3-6, and will showcase the country's best physically disabled footballers.
In 2005, at the age of eight, blood tests, lumbar punctures, x-rays and MRIs revealed Harvey had contracted the rare virus transverse myelitis.
A one in 26 million chance, the neurological virus caused inflammation across the width of both sides of one level of his spinal cord.
Doctors told his family that there was a high likelihood that the virus could have progressed further and made him a quadriplegic, or even put him in a vegetative state.
Next week will be the fifth time he has competed at state level, with it also being five years since South Australia has fielded a team due to player shortages.
Harvey, and other SA players, have spent the last three years competing alongside the recently formed ACT state team.
The lead-up to the tournament has seen Harvey travel to Adelaide weekly to train with the rest of the team, under the tutelage of former Adelaide United player and Johnny Warren Medallist (A League best and fairest) Marcos Flores.
Flores is confident the team will play well after their absence from the country's premier competition.
"It's a beautiful challenge to come back and to represent South Australia in the best way possible.
"It's not about winning; it's not about losing. It's about feeling competitive," Flores said.
Harvey is very optimistic about the team's chances, stating their preparation for the tournament has been first-class.
"All of the players have bought into the game style that Marcos is implementing for the tournament, and we believe if we stick to our plan we will get the desired result," Harvey said.
"The Paralympic game has some notable differences compared to the able-bodied game, and we believe we can use those differences to our advantage."
In Paralympic football, instead of fielding 11 players, teams field seven players. Another key difference is the removal of the off-side rule.
Harvey said the upcoming tournament is important for potentially being selected for the national side.
"Pararoos (national side) coach Kai Lammert, and other national team coaches, watch all the games and if you perform well you might find yourself selected for a national training camp," Harvey said.
"I have put in a mountain of work to give myself the best opportunity to return to the national set-up. I was called up for a camp in 2015 and haven't been selected for one since."
Strong performances at last year's tournament have given Harvey the confidence to take his game to the next level.
South Australia play Capital Football (ACT) in their first game at 10.05am tomorrow.