When Hawthorn’s AFL Blind team ran out on Saturday its banner read “One to remember, always.”
And one to remember it was.
In the AFL Blind’s inaugural grand final, the Hawks defeated the Bulldogs by seven points in a thrilling and historical game for all those involved.
It was an incredible achievement for the Hawks who showed immense improvement from their first game against the Bulldogs in Round 1, where they were defeated by a whopping 150 points.
Saturday’s game was a celebration of the first season of AFL Blind.
The establishment of the VBFL this year has given vision impaired athletes a space to feel included and a chance to play the sport they love so much.
It was an exhilarating game with the two teams battling it out over four 10-minute quarters.
Hawks players Johnny Boland and Ned Brewer-Maiga were instrumental in Hawthorn’s win, kicking majority of the side’s 13 goals.
But arguably the moment of the match - at least in the eyes of the Hawthorn-dominant crowd - was when young Cebby Johnson took a mark in the goal square. The crowd had followed Cebby’s journey; they knew how much this moment meant.
When the final siren sounded the Hawks had secured their win at 13.8 (86) to 12.7 (79).
The pure elation among the Hawthorn players was palpable, some shedding tears of happiness for their historic win.
Boland was awarded best on ground honours after his eight-goal performance, while young Hawk Soban Sivachanthiran spoke of how incredible it felt to not just win, but to play footy in general.
“It feels amazing, for us to play footy as it is,” Sivachanthiran said.
“I’ve been waiting since I was maybe sixteen (to play), in school I was told I would probably never play footy again.”
During the medal ceremony, there was a common feeling among the players and supporters; win or lose, it was an unbelievably important day for vision-impaired athletes and ‘one to remember, always.’