This Saturday the 3rd of September marks the first game of the upcoming Wheelchair AFL QClash Series. The Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS have each locked in their teams for the competition.
The teams are as follows:
|Gold Coast SUNS||Brisbane Lions|
|Stephen French (Captain)||Michael Dobbie-Bridges (Captain)|
|Aimee Robinson||Anita Absolom|
|Andrew Grant||Becky McDonald|
|Andrew Miller||Eddie Buttimore|
|Chris Robson||Grant Cunningham|
|Dion Sanderson||Jasmine Manning|
|Jess O’Neill||Kent McKelvie|
|Rohan Cracknell||Paul Letters|
|Sam Thomas||Tristan Orchard|
Some players to watch:
Gold Coast SUNS:
Stephen French (Captain):
Stephen got involved with Wheelchair AFL after hearing about it from of some teammates whilst training for the 2020 Invictus Games. After attending the first Come N Try Day on the Gold Coast he felt like he had turned the clock back to when he was playing for the Air Force in East Sale in the East Gippsland League.
He has played, represented, and coached a lot of different able bodied and adaptive sports, most recently Wheelchair AFL, Rugby League, Basketball, Rugby, Adaptive Indoor Rowing, and Seated Discus. Prior to participating in adaptive sports, he was involved in many sports as a player and or a coach including Softball, Baseball, Basketball, Rugby League, Australian Rules, and Cricket to name a few.
Rohan got involved because he loves sports but with having disabilities, he was unable to be involved in the sporting clubs around. He’d heard about wheelchair basketball, started playing and loved it. Through basketball, Rohan was introduced to Wheelchair AFL and has loved it ever since.
Growing up in small country towns, one of the few sports available to Andrew was field archery, which he enjoyed. After moving to Brisbane in the 1990s, Andrew started playing wheelchair basketball, where he had the opportunity to represent the Queensland at junior level from 1999 to 2001. He has most recently been playing para ice hockey.
Chris’ primary sport is wheelchair rugby league. He’s been playing for a few years now and absolutely loves it. He has also made the Qld Maroons Squad, aiming for the green and gold jersey for the World Cup in France. Chris enjoys playing AFL to challenge himself in something he’s not familiar with.
Michael Dobbie-Bridges (Captain):
Michael is a former wheelchair tennis player. He represented Australia at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games and at 6 World Team Cups. Michael achieved a career high of 29 in the world in singles, and 27 in doubles. He’s also played wheelchair basketball for a few seasons before his tennis career took off. While still playing tennis socially, he’s been looking for a new sport since retiring and seeing his mates in Melbourne playing wheelchair AFL really inspired him. Michael grew up playing footy in Victoria in the GVFL and is a huge fan of all things footy.
Eddie played junior football for the Broadbeach Cats and played senior football for Coorparoo Kings, all while having a disability from birth. In 2010 Eddie was in a car accident while at work and was in intensive care with a spinal cord injury. After being told he would never be able to participate in sports again, Eddie now loves playing wheelchair AFL.
After leaving the RAAF, Grant and his wife opened a Gymnastics sports club that they owned and operated for the next 10 years. He also started playing master’s AFL with the Macarthur Wombats and training the local Currans Hill Auskick Team.
Moving to Queensland in 2010, Grant joined the local Kurrawa Surf Lifesaving Club, becoming a Lifesaver and then moving on to train Lifeguards. Joining the Marchpast team, he has State and National Medals. He has been a Sport and Recreation Trainer for the past 10 years, involved in many different sports such as Rugby League, Soccer, Basketball, Golf, Swimming and Cricket.
In 2018 Grant was having trouble running then walking blaming age, injury, and the sports he had done the past. After seeing doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist he was diagnosed with a Medical Condition that causes Spasticity in his legs.
The condition is called Heredity Spastic Paraplegies, a very rare condition that is progressive with no known cure. Grant will eventually lose his ability to walk and stand. Having recently looked into Wheel Chair Sports, Grant has fallen in love with both Wheelchair AFL and Basketball.
After moving from Darwin, Tristan plays wheelchair tennis at the National Tennis Academy. After having played a little wheelchair AFL in the NT and really enjoying it, Tristan saw the Wheelchair QClash series as an awesome opportunity to keep playing.