Victoria’s AFL Wheelchair representative squad is ready to rumble, as they prepare to take to the court this week for the 2018 Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Championships from March 21- 23. Anna Pavlou reports.
Held at Cranbourne’s Casey Stadium, the annual event provides people with a physical disability with the opportunity to play Australia’s traditional game in a safe and fun environment.
Over the past few months, Victoria’s representative squad have been diligently working at improving their overall skills and teamwork, to gain a better understanding of the game style they will take into this year’s carnival.
Victorian Wheelchair squad debutant, Louis Rowe, said the team’s preparations were already proving beneficial.
“We’ve had a couple of months of intense training,” Rowe said.
“The hard work is paying off and showing in our performance.”
Victorian Coach and AFL wheelchair player, Brendan Stroud says that his team is fighting fit ahead of the competition.
“We’re 110 per cent ready to go,” Stroud said.
“This year, we are a lot better prepared with more speed and different skill sets, so we’re looking forward to getting out there.”
Stroud, who coached Victoria in the Championships last year, emphasized how important the team bond has become not just during training, but also outside of it.
“Having that comradery and friendship is helping educate the guys and bring everyone together, which is vital to effective communication in a game,” he said.
The team, who have been training every Tuesday and Sunday at Boroondara Sports Complex, have also added differing elements and skills to their training in order to reach their full potential.
“With more coaches and skills, there is another dimension added [to our game],” Stroud said.
The Victorian team are aiming high too, with their hearts set on going all the way in 2018.
“We want to bring the premiership cup home to Victoria,” said Rowe.
But, most importantly, the team is looking forward to representing their state on the big stage.
“It’s a great honour to pull on the Big V, ability or injury doesn’t come into it. We’re here to play footy at the end of the day,” Rowe said.
“It’s [the guys’] saviour, life and passion. It’s a dream come true,” Stroud added.
The Victorian team will face off against teams from Tasmania, the Australian Defence Force, the RSL and the reigning champions, South Australia in a round robin format over three days.
SEE BELOW FOR 2018 NATIONAL CHAMPS FIXTURE: