Hawthorn is one club, many teams, including a wheelchair footy and an AFL Blind team. With lots of time to be spent at home over the coming weeks, we thought it was the perfect time for Hawks fans to learn a little bit more about the players that make up these teams. Hawthorn’s Wheelchair and Blind football teams are made possible by the club’s social inclusion partner, Afford, one of Australia’s longest-serving disability service providers.

Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do outside of footy?

I studied Film and Television and have done a lot of study within the film industry at RMIT. I have previously worked with the AFL and Fox Footy in video editing. I have also done some volunteering at Box Hill Hawks doing video editing and producing.  

So, this is your first year playing wheelchair AFL. What made you pursue AFL and how did you get involved? 

I got involved by going to an open day after I saw a post on Facebook. I thought I’d give it a go and I quickly fell in love with the game. Everyone was so nice and supportive and now I cannot wait to get started. 

Being your first year in the sport, what does it mean for you to play, and what are you looking forward to the most?

I’m looking forward to getting out there with new mates and being a part of a tight-knit community. At the end of the day, I really want to win with the Hawks – that is what I’m looking forward to most.   

Wheelchair sports have a wide range of people who participate, with various stories and challenges. What was your pathway into wheelchair sport and what are some of the challenges you face daily and in sport?

I played footy when I was younger before I was diagnosed with my condition. I have a condition that affects my lower limbs called Hereditary Spastic Paraparesis. It’s quite rare, I am pretty sure it affects about 1 in 50,000. I was diagnosed at the end of high school in 2012. It has gradually gotten worse over time and now I have to use crutches or a wheelchair when I go out.

Wheelchair AFL looks like a fast-paced sport. What are you looking forward to the most this season?

This is my first year, so I am just looking forward to meeting my new teammates, improving my chair skills and learning the tactics of the game. Hopefully we can win the flag for Hawthorn.

Have you played any other sports? What level?

I first got into wheelchair footy and basketball around the start of this year. I play wheelchair basketball for Kilsyth with Will Firth who also plays for Hawthorn, which is great fun.

Do you have any heroes or people you aspire to be like?

Well, I am a massive Demons fan so back in the day, I loved Adam Yze and Aaron Davey. There have been a few ex-Melbourne players who have come through Hawthorn including Yze so that’s pretty cool.

What is your ultimate sporting goal and what is a life goal of yours?

I would love to improve my wheelchair sports skills and hopefully make a national team one day. A life goal is to get into the film industry, in America hopefully.

If you could encourage people to try your sport, what would you say to them?

Just come down to an open day or a ‘come and try’ day and give it a go. Everyone is really friendly and supportive. I am sure you would enjoy it, so give it a crack.

What does it mean to be drafted to Hawthorn Football Club’s wheelchair team?

I was really surprised, to be honest. I have only played for a short time, but it means a lot. I love football in general and always have.

What are you looking forward to the most about being a part of the Hawthorn family?

I cannot wait to get a few goals! But mostly I’m really just looking forward to being a part of the broader family at Hawthorn, with all of the teams like the AFL boys and Blind team, and I am really looking forward to meeting everyone when the season eventually starts and getting stuck into it.

All interviews in the Getting to know series are hosted by Hawthorn’s AFL Blind Vice Captain Ned Brewer-Maiga.

Find out more about Hawthorn’s Social Inclusion Partner Afford by heading to their website.