Wheelchair AFL Nationals begin this week
Australia’s elite men’s and women’s wheelchair footballers will travel to Melbourne this week for the 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships.
Co-delivered by the AFL and Disability Sports Australia (DSA) – and proudly supported by Toyota – the championships take place between Thursday 2 and Sunday 5 November at the State Netball and Hockey Centre in Parkville.
Highlighting the growth and popularity of Australian wheelchair football, more than 90 players across nine mixed teams will compete for the coveted title, marking the second consecutive year each state and territory is represented, along with a team from the Returned Services League of Australia (RSL).
A ‘lightning carnival’ format consisting of 37 games will take place over the first two days, with the top five teams progressing to division one and the remaining four teams placed into division two, with the championships culminating in grand finals on Sunday.
Since DSA established the carnival in 2016, South Australia has won four division one titles (2016-2019), while Victoria took home its inaugural crown in 2022, and as the reigning champ, will be looking to defend its premiership.
An ‘All Star Game’ will also feature on the final day of the event, with wheelchair footballers from the championships battling it out with some famous faces including GWS GIANTS captain, Toby Greene, Western Bulldog forward, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Wheelchair Rugby Paralympic gold medallist, Ryley Batt OAM, actor Samuel Johnson OAM, and the AFL’s Executive General Manager of Game Development, Rob Auld.
A delighted Auld said he was looking forward to the 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships starting on Thursday.
“I can’t wait to watch our best wheelchair footballers in action this week all vying to take home the cup, it’s going to be a fierce contest with plenty of skill, endurance and tactics on display,” Auld said.
“These championships follow the recent success of the 2023 Toyota AFL National Inclusion Carnival which was held in Queensland and highlights the inclusive way our game can be adapted to ensure everyone has an opportunity to play Australian football and represent their state and territory on the national stage.
“In addition to the ‘All Star Game’ on Sunday we’ll also be running an all-women’s Wheelchair AFL match to promote and encourage female participation, and for the first time at these championships, we’ll have wheelchair Auskick take part in half-time Grand Final activations which will be a wonderful experience for the children.
“We know these inclusive pathways to play footy are rapidly growing year-on-year and as a sport we’re committed to investing funds and resources to make sure we’re providing the best opportunity and experiences for everyone, as we strive for our goal to have footy in every home.
“I’d like to thank DSA and Toyota for their continued support and wish all the wheelchair footballers, coaches, staff and families all the best for the championships and encourage the community to head along and support this wonderful event.”
Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer, Vin Naidoo, said Toyota was honoured to continue supporting the 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships.
“Through our partnership with the AFL, Toyota is committed to growing the game at all levels and making it accessible for all, so it’s fantastic to see the continued growth of Australian wheelchair football since the championship’s inception in 2016.
“With such talented players vying for the cup it will be an action-packed week that shouldn’t be missed. We wish all the teams best of luck in the competition.”
The 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships are also supported by the Victorian Government, APM Employment Services and the Australian Defence Force.
Event: 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships
When: Thursday 2 – Sunday 5 November 2023
Sessions: Approximately 10am – 4:30pm each day
Where: State Netball & Hockey Centre, 10 Brens Drive, Parkville, VIC 3052
Tickets: Free entry
The fixture and match centre for the championships can be viewed here. Action starts at 10:00am AEDT on Thursday 2 November
|Year||Host City||Division 1 Winner||Division 2 Winner|
|2019||South Australia||South Australia||–|
About Wheelchair AFL
- – The game is played between two teams of five, plus interchange players.
- – The field is a rectangular indoor court divided into thirds (like netball), with AFL goal posts at either end of the field.
- – Players are assigned to the position of either a defender, midfielder or forward, with the forwards the only players who are able to score.
- – Similar to AFL Nines, tackling occurs by touching a player in possession either on their body or wheelchair.
- – There is no kicking of the ball – a handball is equivalent to a kick.
- – An underarm throw below shoulder height is comparable to a handball.
The 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships is part of the AFL’s Diversity and Inclusion program and follows the recent 2023 Toyota AFL National Inclusion Carnival held in Queensland a few weeks ago.