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Julia Balsillie

A love of sport, teaching and coaching is what drives Julia Balsillie, who will be working with two talented golfers to help them achieve their goals at the Special Olympics World Summer Games this year.

Originally from Canada, Julia moved to New Zealand in 2006. She has been involved with Special Olympics for the past five years and has been the Head Coach for the Special Olympics Wellington basketball team for three years.

“I got involved with Special Olympics because of my passion for sport and my love for coaching and teaching (I’m a trained teacher). I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to participate and compete.

“My involvement in golf has been mostly social, but I’m very excited to be focusing on this great sport for this year. And it’s even more special as it is my first experience of World Games.”

As part of her new role, Julia will be working closely with the athletes (with the support of their local coaches) to identify their individual goals. Her aim is to increase opportunities for Nicholas Anderson and Daryl Smith to get out more often on the course, and to play together regularly to help them work well as a team.

“At our Labour Weekend selection camp I first met my two golfers. Despite the high winds and a hot dinner about to be served they didn’t want to stop – they just got on with it and completed the training and didn’t complain at all. Very committed!”

Julia herself is a great example of this commitment and drive having coached Women's football at Marist AFC for three seasons, before taking this year off to return to playing with Island Bay United AFC. She also plays twilight football and Gaelic football socially.

In addition to her sporting activities, Julia balances her work as Development Manager in the Disability Support Services Group for the Ministry of Health, with being a member of the Special Olympics Wellington Committee and volunteering at Circa Theatre.

One cannot help but believe it when Julia says, “I need to stay busy and tend to thrive on it.”

What I love about New Zealand Special Olympics:

The organisation presents a fantastic opportunity for New Zealand athletes to showcase their talent. The incredible events they participate in enable athletes to come together from across the New Zealand and to be recognised for their abilities.


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