More Victorians will have access to playing Australian Football in season 2018, with the launch of the inaugural Robert Rose Foundation Victorian Wheelchair Football League (VWFL).
In partnership with the Robert Rose Foundation, the new league is the first opportunity people with a physical disability will have to play AFL in a regular state-wide competition.
In conjunction with Disability Sport & Recreation (DSR) – the peak body for disability sport in Victoria- the league will focus on promoting social inclusion and allow more Victorians to enjoy the benefits of physical activity.
The 10-round competition will run between May and August, with the Grand Final to be played in September during the AFL Bye-Round.
Five sides will take part in the competition, with AFL clubs Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn, Richmond and St. Kilda securing teams in the inaugural league.
AFL Victoria chief executive Steven Reaper said the establishment of the Victorian Wheelchair Football League was a great addition to the range of AFL disability programs on offer for Victorians.
“Our mission at AFL Victoria is to be the most accessible sport for all Victorians, and the creation of this league is just another example of how we are working towards ensuring that every Victorian has the chance to play our great game,” he said.
“In addition to our other disability programs we offer such as AFL Blind and the Victorian FIDA Football League, the establishment of the VWFL means that those people with a physical disability who never thought they would play AFL now have the chance to do so.
“To have the Robert Rose Foundation’s support as the naming rights partner of the competition is fantastic. They are a well-regarded name in the spinal cord injury community and have strong connections to football, so they are a perfect fit for this competition,” Reaper said.
“In addition, DSR’s expertise in disability sport will be invaluable in managing and administering the teams in the VWFL. They have been at the forefront of AFL Wheelchair since its beginnings, and we’re delighted to work with them to assist the broader development of the sport in the future.”
The VWFL will see two teams of five players each take to a basketball court, with a handball the equivalent to a kick and an underarm throw comparable to a hand pass as per traditional AFL.
The competition is open to anyone with a physical disability, people with mobility issues as well as able-bodied people who are interested in getting involved.
Robert Rose Foundation Director Cliff Wise said the Foundation was proud to be involved in the new initiative.
“The Robert Rose Foundation believes that this competition offers a very positive incentive for spinal injured victims and other disabled groups to become involved in an activity that will build self-esteem, confidence and a capacity to access and engage with the wider community.”
Round 1 of the VWFL season will commence on Sunday May 6 at Boroondara Sports Complex.
For those interested in the VWFL, please contact AFL Victoria FIDA Football & AAA Programs Manager Scott Nicholas at firstname.lastname@example.org