By Ant Wingard@AntWingard
Queensland produced a successful campaign at the 2018 AFL National Inclusion Carnival, finishing the week-long event with a fourth-place finish overall.
The AFL National Inclusion Carnival aimed at bringing together footballers with an intellectual disability from across Australia in a round-robin style carnival to provide Australia’s most talented footballers with disability the chance to represent their state or territory.
In 2017, the sunshine state side qualified for their maiden appearance in the carnival’s division one tier and expectations were equally as high this time around.
The side travelled to Launceston, Tasmania, for the carnival last Monday in preparation of the commencement of games the following day.
Tuesday was comprised of a lightening round in which each state team played each other once in shortened games to qualify into either of the two divisions.
Queensland claimed victory in four of their seven games to again qualify into division one alongside Victoria Metro, Victoria Country and South Australia.
AFL Queensland Talent Coordinator – Diversity, Peter Yagmoor, said even qualifying for the top group was a big win for the Queensland side.
“This year, to be able to go through the lightening carnival winning those games and then to get into division one is a massive achievement,” Yagmoor told aflq.com.au.
“Some people probably wrote us off but for them to bounce back and get up there was a challenge.”
“It was hard to win a game but to keep motivated and keep going was a challenge but they handled it well. That was really pleasing to see.”
Life in division one proved a challenge for the rejuvenated Queensland side who were fielding a new-look team in 2018.
A loss to Victoria Country opened their official division one account, and was followed with further losses to South Australia and Victoria Metro.
But despite their form on field, the team gelled wholesomely off it.
The Queensland side enjoyed a round of mini golf following their clash with South Australia and on the Saturday, the team travelled to Mount Ben Lomond to see the snow.
“It was really good. Some of the boys hadn’t seem snow before so we all had a good time. It was fun,” Yagmoor said.
The carnival concluded as players from all teams watched the Hawthorn v Gold Coast match at UTAS Stadium and did a lap of honour on the field at half time.
Despite fielding a new-look side this year, Queensland weren’t without a plethora of stars in their ranks.
Queensland captain Josh Correa and vice-captain brad Lawrence both were named in the AFL Inclusion All-Australian team.
Star forward Robbie van Allen was again a prolific force in front of goal, leading all-comers in the Queensland maroon with eight majors for the tournament.
Dylan Evans compiled a stellar carnival on his way to earning Queensland MVP honours as the team’s best and most improved player at the tournament.
The AFL Inclusion Carnival aims at providing an opportunity for footballers with an intellectual disability the chance to play the sport at a competitive level, and for Yagmoor, the carnival ticked that box in every way imaginable.
“To get the opportunity to represent their state in Australian rules football is unbelievable.”
“For the AFL to be able to make the opportunity a reality is just awesome.”