Players with intellectual disabilities ‘pumped’ for inclusive footy carnival

Tasmanian players get ready for AFL Inclusion Carnival
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ABC Radio Sydney

By

Luke Wong

Posted

June 19, 2018 11:21:27

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The AFL Inclusion Carnival brings together players living with an intellectual disability. (ABC Radio Sydney: Luke Wong)
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“I started to get pumped,” he said.The young man from Picton will be wearing the number 6 guernsey when he runs onto the field to represent NSW/ACT during his first AFL Inclusion Carnival. Photo:
Dylan Donaldson is proud to be representing NSW/ACT in the AFL Inclusion Carnival for the second time. (ABC Radio Sydney: Luke Wong)
Fostering communityAFL community football manager Jacinta Huston said the event encouraged teamwork among players who originated from distant locations from around NSW and the ACT.”We’ve got the aim for the AFL to be a more inclusive sport, and it’s just really important to get the boys involved and give them an opportunity to showcase their amazing skills,” she said.”They’re no different to anybody else.” Photo:
Taylor Hanson will make his Aussie Rules debut at the AFL Inclusion Carnival. (Supplied: AFL)
Now in its fifth year, the event is for male players over the age of 16 who are living with an intellectual disability.Jumping between codesA convert from rugby league, Taylor quickly got up to speed on Aussie Rules after receiving a call from the Down Syndrome Association inviting him to attend a training session.The keen Sydney Swans fan is aiming to kick at least eight goals during this year’s event in Launceston.”Being in a team is probably the biggest thing for him; he really likes being among people that he can associate with,” his father Greg said.”To him it’s just everything, he’s just looking forward to it so much.”He wasn’t an AFL supporter before this but now we have to watch all the games, so it’s good.” ‘Owning’ a disabilityTeam-mate Dylan Donaldson is eager to return to the field after his team’s impressive performance during last year’s carnival on the Gold Coast. (ABC Radio Sydney: Luke Wong)
“It’s was pretty good but sadly I couldn’t play after the first game of the lightning round,” he said.Dylan’s cheek bears a scar from an injury he sustained after a collision with another player.”He got knocked out and I ended up with six stitches,” he said. For Taylor Hanson, being chosen to represent his state in a national AFL competition offered him a rare opportunity to travel interstate and show off his kicking abilities. (Supplied: AFL)
Dylan enjoys playing forward positions and said he would use skills from his other sporting activities to get an advantage over opponents.”From league I’ll be able to bring my tackling and my speed, as well as footwork,” he said.”[From] cricket would be my ability to jump high and be able to catch.”As one of six students from Doonside Technology High School to make the team, the proud western Sydney resident is also hoping to experience some novel weather during his first visit to the country’s most southerly state.”I’ve never seen snow, so fingers crossed I get to see snow in Launceston.”I’m [glad] that this year’s guernseys have long sleeves.”

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The NSW Government gave funding to allow 16 players to travel and participate in the event for free. Although NSW/ACT were defeated in the grand final by reigning champions Victoria Metro, Dylan is optimistic his team can reverse the result.”Owning my disability is a big honour and I’m proud to be going for the second year.”

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Teams undertake last-minute training for the 10 matches they will play over the five-day tournament.