AFL National Inclusion Carnival begins in Sydney

The 2019 AFL National Inclusion Carnival has officially begun in Blacktown, running until July 20.

Supported by the NSW Government, Blacktown City Council, International Day of People with Disability, MatchWorks, the GWS GIANTS and Novotel Sydney at West HQ, the AFL National Inclusion Carnival brings together male footballers aged 16 years and over with an intellectual disability from across the country to take part in a round-robin carnival.

Eight teams from across the country will don representative jumpers in 2019, with teams representing  New South Wales and the ACT, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria Country, Victoria Metro, and Western Australia set to compete.

Today marked the start of the Carnival with all states taking part in the ‘Lightning Round’, where each team played four short matches to determine which division each state will compete from during the week.

It was a tough start to the competition for the atWork Australia AFL NSW/ACT Inclusion Rams, defeated in all four of their matches. They came close against Western Australia in their final match of the day, finishing on equal points before the Western Australian’s slotted a goal from a free kick after the siren.

Despite the four losses, the Rams’ spirit remained high, as did the sportsmanship displayed.

For the first time, a female super clinic also took place on Day One in an effort to expand the Carnival for future years. GWS GIANTS AFL Women’s star, Haneen Zreika was in attendance, assisting the newcomers in a skills clinic as well as umpiring – and cheering on – the girls in a match.

Throughout the week players will take part in a number of educational sessions on topics such as cyber safety and drugs and alcohol, all before playing finals under lights at Blacktown International Sportspark on Friday, July 19.

AFL General Manager Game Development, Andrew Dillon said the Carnival is a great opportunity for people with disability to showcase their skills and represent their state and territory.

“The AFL is committed to ensuring that our game is accessible to all people, and the AFL National Inclusion Carnival is a great example of providing more opportunities for everyone to play the game they love,” Mr Dillon said.

“The Carnival not only gives some of Australia’s most talented footballers the chance to represent their State/Territory but is also an opportunity to showcase the significant abilities of footballers with an intellectual disability to the broader community.

“In addition to this year’s Carnival, we’re also delighted to see an increase of females with an intellectual disability getting involved in the game and participate in our first female super clinic, so we’re looking forward to see the sport continue to grow in the future.”

About the National Inclusion Carnival:

For many years, players with intellectual disabilities from Victoria and South Australia competed in an annual State of Origin match. In 2013, players from NSW/ACT joined the carnival and Victoria was split into two teams (Metro and Country) to form a four-team competition.

Victoria Country was victorious in the 2014 carnival, which also saw the introduction of teams from Queensland and Tasmania. Western Australia participated in the carnival for the first time in 2015 where Victoria Metro claimed the honours. Victoria Metro then went on to claim the next three Division 1 titles, defeating South Australia in Melbourne in 2016, NSW/ACT on the Gold Coast in 2017 and most recently South Australia in Tasmania in 2018.

Two premiership titles have been secured in the Division 2 competition since it first began in 2017, with South Australia defeating Tasmania in 2017 and Western Australia defeating Northern Territory in 2018.

Follow all the action throughout the Carnival online using the hashtag #AFLInclusion or CLICK HERE for fixtures and results.

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