Kaine Sheppard is currently sidelined with a foot injury which is set to keep him out for some time, but the striker certainly isn’t resting on his laurels.
He’s started his own not-for-profit organisation, the KS Foundation, in order to help children with Autism to play and enjoy football.
This weekend against Adelaide United, Sheppard will unveil an initiative which he’s hoping takes hold throughout the league.
“Sometimes the noise of the crowd, the lights and the atmosphere get a bit too much for (the children) so they need a place to relax.
“We’ll have headphones in there for them... we’ll kit it with things for the children to enjoy which will just allow them to go in there and relax, just chill out.”
Sheppard has first-hand experience with autism – older brother Jake is autistic.
He’s a big part of the reason why Kaine made the decision to start the KS Foundation, and it’s why he’s so passionate about giving kids with autism an opportunity to experience football.
“Jake is my inspiration for it, he’s my number one fan. He’s got all my shirts from England and Australia all around his walls,” Sheppard said.
“He went to a special needs school and he’s been involved in disability football teams where we live at home.
“Growing up with him and seeing him grow and evolve... just seeing how much he loved and enjoyed (football) and how much he got from it I was quite excited to do something similar and give back.”
Sheppard is set to remain sidelined until the new year with the foot injury he sustained back in September’s friendly clash with Sydney FC.
While no player wants to be on the injury list, it’s allowed him to find a balance between his rehabilitation work and working on building the KS Foundation.
“It’s never good when you have an injury, it happened at not a great time for me just before the season,” Sheppard said.
“Unfortunately it’s not something that happens a lot I’ve been told. I think a lot of players will tell you these days it’s good to have something else to concentrate on.
“It really takes your mind away from it essentially helping other families which is nice.
“We work so hard in rehab and everything like that, so it’s just nice to do something a little bit different, and give back.”
This weekend’s clash with Adelaide United marks the first time the KS Foundation will host an Autism Sensory Room.
Kick-off is at 5pm at McDonald Jones Stadium – buy your ticekts today and join us in 2019/20.