Queensland-first Wheelchair AFL program kicks goals

Gold Coast SUNS AFLW players Tori Groves-Little and Bess Keaney have given the newest sport on the Gold Coast a go as they prepare for the upcoming AFL Women’s season; trying out Wheelchair AFL.

In a Queensland first, an official mini-season of inclusive Wheelchair AFL will launch this weekend as a pilot project, welcoming people of all abilities to take part.  It comes following the popularity of the recent Wheelchair AFL Come and Try Day sessions which saw more than 40 locals taking part.

The first-of-its-kind program is being brought to life by Sporting Wheelies and AFL Queensland, with the support of Toyota Australia, to enable locals with disability the opportunity to take part in the all-time favourite Aussie sport.

On a mission to increase the options of inclusive sports for those living with disability, Sporting Wheelies CEO, Amanda Mathers said the Wheelchair AFL Come & Try Program is an opportunity for participants to realise their full potential.

“Whether finding renewed independence and happiness through the social element of the program, or striving toward Paralympic dreams, this program can guide people of all abilities toward achieving their goals,” Mrs Mathers said.

“Sporting Wheelies is thrilled to be working alongside national sporting bodies to implement programs like this that make a real difference to the lives of all Queenslanders living with disability,” she said.

“Bringing the AFL Come & Try Program and mini-season to life on the Gold Coast is a fantastic way for us to add another sport to the mix, providing more people with disability the opportunity to try their hand at a range of inclusive sports – and ultimately, have the same opportunities as others.”

Programs and Participation Manager Queensland, Richie Lyons said AFL Queensland were dedicated to making it easy for people with disabilities to participate in Australian football including playing, coaching, officiating, and administering the game.

“With one in six Australian’s living with a disability, we want to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate in our great game,” Mr Lyons said.

“It’s fantastic to have the support of the Gold Coast SUNS AFLW players to help us promote this new and inclusive way of playing footy.

“I’d also like to thank Toyota who are working with each of the AFL’s state and territory bodies to celebrate inclusion opportunities around the country.”

Wheelchair AFL Program Coordinator and Sporting Wheelies’ Game Changer mentor, Yasmina McGlone runs the sessions and hopes to inspire others living with disability to come and play another sport.

“Sport opened up so many opportunities in terms of employment, friendships and growing as a person, and I just want to see as many people benefit from that as well,” McGlone said.

The Wheelchair AFL mini-season will run fortnightly starting this Saturday from 1:30pm to 4:00pm at the Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre. Register your interest here.

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