The brown and gold army will soon have another team to cheer for, with the Hawthorn Football Club announcing it will field an AFL Blind team in 2019.
The competition, set to kick off at the end of June, was created to allow players who are blind or vision impaired to participate in the game they love.
One such player is Cebby Johnson.
In August last year Cebby fell through a roof, tragically losing his eyesight - totally and permanently.
A promising athlete in his youth, it seemed football was now out of the question.
That was until last week, when the 14-year-old was called into the Hawks’ team meeting by Alastair Clarkson.
“We want to tell all the players here that Cebby is our first Hawthorn blind player.”
The announcement was met with applause and cheers from the Hawthorn playing group. They have followed Cebby’s story. They know how much this means.
Cebby is one of 10 AFL Blind players set to don the brown and gold this season (figuratively speaking – the team will actually wear bright orange to assist with visibility).
The players are categorised based on their level of vision impairment (B1 or B2), with different rules applying to different categories. Cebby will be categorised as B1, as will all players who are completely blind and rely on other senses to participate.
B1 players are awarded additional points for scoring – nine for a goal and three for a behind. So, he plans on staying close to the goal square and piling on the scoreboard damage – much like his all-time idol.
To quote Cebby himself, “I’m the mini Cyril Rioli, but blind.”
When the AFL Blind season kicks off Saturday June 29th, Cebby Johnson will be living his lifelong dream of playing for the Mighty Fighting Hawks.
“It’s amazing, and wonderful, and I can’t wait to play AFL Blind football.”
Hawthorn’s 2019 AFL Blind Squad
Melanie Edge (Captain)
How AFL Blind is played
A game of AFL Blind looks and feels like traditional Australian football.
Games are played indoors, which provides a controlled environment to allow players to utilise their hearing. The football has a USB charging port and an electronic beeper inserted so that the players can track the ball using their hearing.
To help players identify the centre and location of the goals, there are flashing lights and high contrast backdrops hung behind the goals, as well as a Bluetooth speaker in-between the goal posts which is activated when players are in their scoring zone.
Six players for each team are on the field at any one time (two forwards, two midfielders and two defenders). Players are classified based on their level of vision impairment and different rules apply for players based on their classification. B1 refers to players are completely blind and rely on other senses to participate. B2 refers to players have a vision impairment but use limited vision to compete. The game will be played out of a purpose-built facility in Tullamarine.
All of Hawthorn’s inclusion programs are made possible by the wonderful support of Afford.