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New sportsplex coming to Newport News, with a push for kids with disabilities and special needs

A Hampton Roads father is on a mission to make sure all kids have the chance at sports, no matter their physical ability.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Al Cousineau is a lot of things: a coach, an entrepreneur, but most importantly to him, a loving father. 

“I'm a dad. I'm a dad who cares and loves sports. I know what they meant for me, and to the kids I’ve coached," he told 13News Now Monday.

He's also a man with a vision, and that vision is now almost complete.

“It's an opportunity for kids to come enjoy the thrill of sports, as well as adult leagues. We’re going to host a lot, you’re standing on the field of dreams in a way," Cousineau said.

By the end of June, construction is expected to finish on the HR Sportsplex off Jefferson Avenue in Newport News. The shell of an old and now-empty bowling alley became the canvas for Cousineau's goal of creating an indoor multi-use space with turf fields, multi-sport courts, and more.

Housed in a 30,000 square-foot facility, Cousineau says the pandemic's impact on construction and labor forced him to look at already existing and vacant buildings instead of starting from the ground up, which is how he landed on the facility on 79th Street. 

“The conceptual nature of what we wanted to do, and what we’ve been able to do in a way: it’s surpassed even what I thought we could do," Cousineau said. 

But what matters most about his journey comes from what's off the field. 

“Dylan and kids like Dylan deserve acceptance and the same level of joy and fun that kids that can walk," Cousineau said, holding back tears. 

Cousineau's 9-year-old son Dylan has cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture.

While the HR Sportsplex caters to both kids and adults, Cousineau's personal connection to special needs led him to put an emphasis on providing space for special needs children to enjoy sports as well 

“It’s what really matters to me, cameras aside, Dylan is my son. I need to think about the joy when he goes on the ramp and the floor, and you see the joy and how excited he is to invite his friends. To me, that's what this is all about," Cousineau said. 

Wheelchair ramps have been installed at spots in the facility to make it easier for children with disabilities to make it to the sporting areas. Cousineau said the space gives them the ability to host a variety of adapted sports like wheelchair soccer, wheelchair basketball, as well as the start of CP [Cerebral Palsy] Warriors FC, a soccer league dedicated solely to children with the same special needs conditions his son Dylan has. 

“I think as other parents come in, and have a chance to see their child joyful, there will be a friendship made. There is a sense of community if we’re going through the same thing, we can share that. But we can sit back and enjoy their success," Cousineau said.

Construction is almost complete, with an expected completion date by the end of June. 

More information on the space and programs that will be provided can be found on their website.