By ZAC MILBANK
South Australia will be looking to continue its recent dominance when it hosts the 2019 Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Carnival from Thursday April 11 to Saturday April 13.
The Croweaters, who will roll out the welcome mat at St Clair Recreation Centre in Woodville, will be aiming to claim an impressive fourth successive crown since the event’s inception in 2016.
Attracting players as young as 12 in social competitions and 17 in the South Australian side, the sport of Wheelchair Aussie Rules is gaining popularity across Australia.
Delivered in conjunction with Disability Sports Australia, with the support of the Port Adelaide Football Club and the Australian Defence Force, the annual carnival provides an opportunity for people with a physical disability to participate in Australian Football.
Rival teams to face the Croweaters throughout the three-day event include Victoria, RSL Active and the Australian Defence Force.
A host of South Australian football greats will test their skills while spinning their wheels in a Celebrity Match to be conducted at 11.30am on Saturday, with Port Adelaide premiership player Darryl Wakelin, Norwood Magarey Medallist Michael Aish, Central District premiership midfielder Chris Gowans and North Adelaide Magarey Medallist Brenton Phillips among those to strut their stuff on court.
SANFL Disability Programs Coordinator Nathan Pepper said it was exciting for South Australia to showcase the best in the sport for the first time.
”SANFL is incredibly proud to be supporting the SA team and the event,” Pepper said.
”We are keen to support setting up a local competition and hope this will spark an interest in the sport to give more players with disability the opportunity to play.”
Wheelchair Aussie Rules is a fully inclusive sport, open to men and women with and without a disability.
The game is played between two teams of five with interchange players. The sport is played on an indoor basketball court and is divided into three zones, a centre zone and two scoring zones.
Teams score by hand balling or passing the football into their attacking scoring zone to the designated scorer who can score a goal or behind by hand balling the ball between the goal posts.
There is no kicking of the ball in Wheelchair Aussie Rules. A hand ball is equivalent to a kick as per Australian Rules Football and a thrown ball equivalent to a hand pass.