Story by Tasmyn Haynes
Coming from the spiritual home of AFL, the Victorian team have been medal winners at every Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Carnival since the inaugural Championship in 2016; yet the all-important gold has continued to elude them.
The recent establishment of the Victorian Wheelchair Football League (VWFL), through the collaboration of AFL Victoria and Disability Sport & Recreation, has provided the squad with a chance to play at a competitive level and develop their skills in the lead up to the Invacare 2019 Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Carnival. We are sure to see a smart style born from the learning opportunities which come from consistent play; which could be the edge the Victorians need to hustle their way to their first gold in the carnival’s history.
At the 2018 tournament the team just missed out on the gold medal match on percentage and went home with the bronze. The captain of the VWFL Essendon team, Louis Rowe, will be returning to the National Carnival after his debut for the Victorian team last year.
“The first game I played was at the carnival last year. I grew up playing football and at the age of 22 I had a spinal cord injury and was forced to stop. I saw a picture of the Nationals from 2016 and got in contact with AFL Victoria. I tried out and luckily got a spot in the Nationals team.”
Louis recalls the tournament to be of high competitive calibre. Although there are friendships formed at the carnival, a rivalry has already begun. Louis and the Victorian team have set their sights on a team that have held the National Champions title for the last three years.
“South Australia have been the team to beat, so hopefully this can be the year we can knock them off on their home soil.”
The 8 athletes chosen to represent the Victorian side were hand selected from a pool of around 30 players who all were participants in the VWFL. This elite squad hope to exhibit great positioning from improved chair skills and good ball handling on the court.
Louis is optimistic about the team’s road to success due to their growth and development that can be seen in the Victorian team’s training and preparations.
“A weakness at our last Nationals had been goal kicking, but we have worked on that over the year and hopefully it will be a strength.”
“It was quite hard for the selectors to choose a team and everybody trained really well so hopefully this will be the team to bring it home for Victoria.”
The Victorian team are eager to compete at the Invacare 2019 Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Carnival and go head to head with the 4 other teams from across the country. The side’s good spirits and confidence is drawn from the success of the VWFL. Combining this added competitive experience with the desire to create history and achieve their first ever gold medal will be sure to see them advance deep into this year’s Carnival.
Catch the Victorian team in action live at St Clair Recreation Centre, Woodville SA from Thursday 11 – Saturday 13 April and to view the schedule for the event, click here.
If you are can’t attend in person, watch the livestream broadcast of the Carnival on the link below: https://www.facebook.com/DisabilitySportsAus/
For more information, please contact Chris Nay on:
M: +61 405 036 727