The AFL Queensland AFLX Inclusion carnival has kicked off with teams from Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast all taking part for the first time.
The men’s and women’s competition will be played across three rounds with the Noosa Tigers, Yeronga Devils and Surfers Paradise Demons participating in two seven minute halves on a rectangular field.
AFL Queensland Diversity Coordinator Peter Yagmoor said it was great to see the clubs buying into the AFLX concept.
“Due to COVID-19 challenges and the National Inclusion Carnival being pushed back from July to October we needed to find a way for these teams to continue to play AFL throughout the season,” said Yagmoor.
“We would love to see this program grow and become an annual event on the AFL Queensland calendar.”
From here 16 players will be selected for the Queensland inclusion team to compete later in the year at the AFL National Inclusion Carnival in Adelaide.
The annual AFL National Inclusion Carnival brings together male footballers with an intellectual disability from across the country to take part in a week-long round-robin competition.
It provides players with the opportunity to don their state’s representative colours and all states and territories in 2021 are expected to field teams at the carnival.
Surfers Paradise will host Yeronga and Noosa on Saturday 10th July with all teams competing in the third and final round of the AFLX competition.
AFLX Inclusion Round 2 wrap
By Ben Hunter
In a windy affair on Saturday morning, with help from Gold Coast’s players, the Yeronga Devils hosted the Noosa Tigers in a thrilling all-abilities match in a terrific spectacle that AFLQ hopes to make a more regular occurrence.
Men and women from Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane enjoyed their second match of the season in a well-spirited contest, clearly valuing fun and inclusion as highly as competitiveness.
With representatives from Queensland’s representative all-abilities team taking the field alongside footy first-timers, family and friends had an exciting morning out.
“It was pretty close,” said Yeronga coach Greg Curtis.
“I actually think Noosa probably got Yeronga in the end but I was pretty impressed with the way both sides were able to work the ball into the breeze.”
“I was really happy with the way that players on both sides looked to just share the ball not just blaze away.”
Enjoying his first year as coach of the squad after several years of “come-and-try” days, Curtis implores people to get involved.
“It’s a fun space, it’s an active space, they’ll find new mates, they’ll find new people and you just become with a whole group of people who enjoy doing what we all love doing which is being active.”
“It doesn’t even have to be AFL lovers, just anyone who loves sport cos you kick, pass, tackle, you do it all in Aussie Rules.”
Team manager Liz Guy, as she puts it, “love-love-loves” working with the all-abilities team, and further emphasised the program’s benefits.
“It’s positive on everybody from the smiles that you see from everybody from the minute they actually get here and put the jersey on, put the socks on they all just feel really important.”
“They have a mateship that continues year after year. Some of these players have been playing for quite some time and they get to see their mates again every year and the families as well to come along they form a network as well and I think it’s really important sport brings everybody together.”
The goal now for people like Greg and Liz, is to collate a number of teams across Brisbane through local clubs to play in a proper round-robin competition.
At present, the same 25 to 35 players play each other week-to-week.
“I think having more local clubs get involved and having more local clubs run all ability training programs and hopefully get something similar to Victoria, they’ve got 18 teams it’d be good to have something similar like that down the track,” explained Yeronga player Ben Hack.
“I love playing footy. I also like the fact that that we accept different abilities,” he said post-game.
“We’ve got players there that are young and some we even had a woman player that was playing and we managed to adapt and adjust to make sure that they could play and not get hurt and be safe so I thought that was really good.”
In his first year of playing footy after many watching his older brother’s play, mother of 17-year-old Jordy could not speak highly enough of the program and what it’s done for both herself, her family, and Jordy.
“It’s been amazing,” Julie said after the match.
“Everyone is so supportive and they get behind each other, they behind him and he just loves being part of the team.”
“I love the way that they will try and share the ball and get it to the guys who maybe don’t run as fast.
“He (Jordy) loves it. He may only be four-foot, but he grows to seven-foot out on the field. It’s amazing!”