Victoria is preparing to go one better this season and claim the 2017 Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Championships title when the competition kicks off on Tuesday.
Held at the State Netball Hockey Centre, the 2017 Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Championships provides people with a disability with the opportunity to play Australia’s traditional game in a safe and fun environment.
Seven teams will battle it out for the coveted title in the four-day carnival with representative sides from South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Defence Force, Returned Service League (RSL) and Victoria ready to go head to head.
Finishing runner up to South Australia in last year’s inaugural competition, Victorian coach Brendan Stroud said the Big V was ready to take the next step.
“We’ve had a lot more preparation time this season which has not only helped our skills, but also given us a chance to bond as a team,” he said.
“This year we have recruited more youth and have kept the experience from some players returning from last year, so we hope that combination will put us in good stead to be competitive once again this season.”
The Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Championships sees five players from each team take to the field to compete on an indoor basketball court. Teams are divided into three zones consisting of two backs, one centre and two forwards who can score a goal or behind by handballing the ball between the goal posts.
In addition, teams can have up to two players without disability on the court and can have men and women of any age participate on the team.
In just its second year, the interest in the Wheelchair Aussie Rules event has seen Victoria double its participation numbers in 12 months to produce two representative sides in the national tournament.
Of the 14 players selected in the Victorian Bandits and Victorian Cyclones squads, three hail from Country Victoria, while a further three participants were born overseas.
“Wheelchair AFL is going from strength to strength, and to have enough numbers to form two representative squads this year is fantastic,” Stroud said.
“We’re really lucky to have so many diverse players on our team… whether it be age, hometown or cultural background, it’s great to be able to have a team that is reflective of our community.
“A number of us use to play football growing up before we were in wheelchairs, so win lose or draw, we are simply excited to have the opportunity to pull on the Big V jumper and represent the state in the game we love.”
The 2017 Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Championships kicks off on Tuesday, March 14, at the State Netball and Hockey Centre from 2pm.
CLICK HERE for a list of Victoria’s two squads…