Enter, the AFL’s Open Era

The Australian Football League has revealed its new flagship national event for footballers with an intellectual disability and wheelchair players – the Toyota AFL Open.

Set to take place for the first time at South Pine Sports Complex in Queensland between 21-26 November, the 2024 Toyota AFL Open will see more than 200 players represent their state and territory, competing for coveted national titles in:

  • 2024 Toyota AFL Open – Wheelchair
  • 2024 Toyota AFL Open – Inclusion

Previously held across two events known as the Toyota AFL National Inclusion Carnival and the Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships, the 2024 Toyota AFL Open aims to elevate and strengthen the competitions by combining both into one major tournament.

More than 90 matches will run concurrently over the course of the five-day event with the inclusion division utilising the grassed oval space and the wheelchair AFL games taking place on the indoor courts.

The new national event and the creation of the AFL Open brand marks the start of a new era for disability inclusion, as the AFL strives to increase participation and boost pathways for people with disability from grassroots to elite.

Embodying the spirit, passion and commitment of the players, AFL Open is open to all. Open to those hungry for the contest, open to the young, the seasoned and the new. AFL Open is the new home for disability inclusion participation.

Queensland wheelchair representative player Ash Holt, Queensland representative and Noosa Inclusion player Sam Dickens, Queensland wheelchair representative player and dual All Australian Michael Dobbie-Bridges at South Pine Sports Complex.

Around Australia there are more than 14,000 disability inclusion participants across NAB AFL Auskick, NAB AFL Superkick, AFL Nines, junior, youth and senior divisions. This national number is up nearly 20 per cent from 2022, with strong growth especially seen in juniors – rising by 34 per cent in the last two years.

Head of AFL Queensland Trisha Squires welcomed the announcement by AFL CEO Andrew Dillon earlier this week.

“Off the back of hosting the Toyota National Inclusion Carnival in Springfield in 2023, it’s exciting to be able to launch the AFL’s new brand for disability inclusion here in Queensland and we look forward to welcoming hundreds of athletes to Queensland in November,” she said.

“Queensland’s AFL inclusion pathway has moved from strength to strength with the recent introduction of AFL Wheelchair – NAB AFL Auskick and AFL Wheelchair – Social League, to support the already existing AFL Wheelchair League and Inclusion League.

“The 2024 Toyota AFL Open is an important boost for our disability inclusion pathway in Queensland, and we’re proud to be able to hold an event of this calibre at the modern, inclusive and versatile South Pine Sports Complex.

“Thank you to City of Moreton Bay who owns the South Pine Sports Complex, Maple Community Services, Sports Marketing Australia and our AFL Queensland team for executing and supporting the event.”

City of Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery said he was delighted to host the Toyota AFL Open, and that it highlights City of Moreton Bay’s commitment to providing accessible and inclusive world-class facilities.

“I’m thrilled to welcome this prestigious national event to the popular South Pine Sports Complex. I’m proud that our commitment to accessibility and investment in specially-designed sports facilities that cater to diverse needs means we can attract and host events like this,” Mayor Flannery said.

“I am excited to welcome the players, support staff, and fans to City of Moreton Bay and invite everyone to enjoy the wide variety of experiences we have to offer.”

Launching the brand new national event on Thursday, AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said the creation of AFL Open is a pivotal step for the growth of the game.

“I’m thrilled to announce the 2024 Toyota AFL Open as a new major event on our calendar and AFL Open as our new brand for disability inclusion,” Dillon said.

“It’s incredibly important that Australian football is accessible and open to everyone, and that we’re establishing clear pathways for players with disability to develop and compete – from grassroots to elite.

“By combining the two championships our aim is to elevate the overall event experience for competitors, families and spectators, making it a flagship moment for our game and showcasing these footballers on the national stage.

“The creation of the AFL Open brand gives us scope to keep expanding participation within this community and helps clearly identify all the ways to play AFL.

“Although we’ve seen participation growth nationally year on year, as a sport we need to ensure we’re providing opportunities that allow everyone to connect with our game as we aspire to have footy in every home. This extends from creating more dedicated wheelchair Auskick centres and establishing more competitions for women and girls.

“I’d like to thank Toyota for its continued support of our disability inclusion events and players. The commitment Toyota has shown across a number of years is a reflection of their passion for our game and making it accessible for all.

“I’d also like to thank the City of Moreton Bay, the South Pine Sports Complex, Maple Community Services, Disability Sport Australia and the AFL Queensland team for their support and hosting the event, we can’t wait to get up there and watch the inaugural 2024 Toyota AFL Open in November.”

Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer Vin Naidoo said that through its long-standing partnership with the AFL, Toyota is proud to continue supporting disability inclusion events and expand its support to AFL Open.

“The spirit, passion and commitment of the players involved is representative of Oh What a Feeling and we are passionate about the opportunities this provides,” Naidoo said.

“Toyota’s partnership with the AFL spans over two decades, and it is fantastic to see the continuous improvement and the expansion of these programs via AFL Open, which will make the game we all love more accessible to all.

“Sport can provide a sense of belonging for many, a common place to congregate and socialise and we will continue to show our support through all levels of sport, from grassroots to the elite and encourage all members of the community to get involved.”

This week the AFL celebrates Toyota Good for Footy Round which recognises the significant contribution Toyota has made to Australian football across all levels, from grassroots to elite.

More details including team announcements and schedules for the 2024 Toyota AFL Open will be announced closer to event, head to play.afl and follow AFL state and territory social media accounts for all the latest updates.

Click here to find out more about the Toyota AFL Open

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