Australian football is part of the social fabric of our society, it is a game that brings people together from all walks of life. Now playing football is set to become even more accessible with the introduction of WA Wheelchair Football League in WA.
WA Wheelchair Football League will be delivered through WA All Abilities Football Association, with the support of Perth Football League and the financial backing of Foundation Partner West Coast Eagles.
Established by Perth Football League in 2019, the WA All Abilities Football Association exists to provide the opportunity for people with a disability to be involved and participate in Australian football like every other Aussie.
The West Coast Eagles have signed on as one of four Foundation Partners of the Association, committing $250,000 to making wheelchair football, and other accessible variations of football, a reality in Western Australia.
WA Wheelchair Football League is an adapted version of the great game, that gives people experiencing a disability the opportunity to play. The game is played on a basketball court with goalposts at either end, and five players to a team. A handball is equivalent to a ‘kick’ and an underarm throw equates to a ‘handball’ as per regular AFL rules.
This initiative has been successfully delivered in other states across the country. Now coming to WA, the Association has hosted four ‘Come and Play’ trial sessions over the past few months. These sessions called forward local talent which will form teams for the official WA Wheelchair Football League competition. This inaugural competition is set to officially launch on Sunday, October 10 and will initially include teams representing three WAFL clubs including Swan Districts, East Perth, and Subiaco.
Perth Football League General Manager, David Armstrong said they’re so proud to be leading the way and advocating for people with a disability in our state.
“Perth Football League have been around for 100 years, and we’ve come a long way in that time. The launch of WA Wheelchair Football League, through the WA All Abilities Football Association, is one of our greatest achievements,” Mr Armstrong said.
“We are so fortunate to have the likes of the West Coast Eagles sign on a Foundation Partner. Without their generous support, we wouldn’t be able to get this program off the ground and offer a more accessible version of the game everyone knows and loves.”
West Coast Eagles Chief Executive Trevor Nisbett said the club was proud to support the program from its infancy.
“Football is a part of the fabric of every community and opening it up to people who have not previously had the opportunity is a wonderful initiative,” Mr Nisbett said.
“As a Foundation Partner, we’re looking forward to seeing the competition come together and gain traction in the coming months. This is just the beginning for wheelchair and accessible footy and it’s exciting to play a role in bringing the idea to a reality.”
By being involved in WA Wheelchair Football League, men, women and children with an intellectual or physical disability can improve their independence, well-being, self-esteem and life skills by being a valued member of a local community club. The league also encourages able-bodied players to get involved, promoting inclusivity across the board.
The Association will go beyond the Perth metropolitan area and into country WA. It will not only encourage people to get involved with wheelchair football but is working towards AFL Blind and Walking Footy for people aged over 55 as well.