AFL launches new Open era

Published 2:00pm 2 July 2024

AFL launches new Open era
Words by Nick Crockford

Pictured above, from left - Queensland Wheelchair player Ash Holt, Queensland and Noosa Inclusion AFL player Sam Dickens, Head of AFL Queensland Trisha Squires, Councillor Matthew Constance, Queensland Wheelchair representative and dual All Australian Michael-Dobbie-Bridges.

Moreton Bay will host a new flagship national AFL event which will see hundreds of players descend on this region.

The first Toyota AFL Open for footballers with an intellectual disability and wheelchair players is to be held at South Pine Sports Complex, Brendale.

More than 200 players will represent states and territories chasing national titles in the Toyota AFL Open Wheelchair and Inclusion competitions.

From November 21-26 over 90 matches are to be held with the Inclusion division playing on grass and Wheelchair on indoor courts.

Combining the Toyota AFL National Inclusion Carnival and National Championships is designed to "elevate and strengthen" the competitions.

It also marks a new era for disability inclusion as the AFL strives to increase participation and pathways for people with disability from grassroots to elite.

There are more than 14,000 disability inclusion participants across NAB AFL Auskick, NAB AFL Superkick, AFL Nines, junior, youth and senior divisions.

That is up nearly 20 per cent from 2022, with strong growth especially in juniors – rising by 34 per cent in the last two years.

“The 2024 Toyota AFL Open is an important boost for our disability inclusion pathway in Queensland,” Head of AFL Queensland Trisha Squires said.

“We're proud to be able to hold an event of this calibre at the modern, inclusive and versatile South Pine Sports Complex.

"Thank you to City of Moreton Bay, Maple Community Services, Sports Marketing Australia and our AFL Queensland team for executing and supporting the event."

Queensland Wheelchair players Ash Holt and Michael Dobbie-Bridges at the Toyota AFL Open launch in Brendale

Mayor Peter Flannery is “excited” to welcome players, support staff and fans to City of Moreton Bay and “enjoy the wide variety of experiences we have to offer.”

“I’m proud our commitment to accessibility and investment in specially-designed sports facilities that cater to diverse needs means we can attract and host events like this,” he said.

AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said: “By combining the two championships our aim is to elevate the overall event experience for competitors, families and spectators, making it a flagship moment for our game and showcasing these footballers on the national stage,” he said.

Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer Vin Naidoo said the company “is proud to continue supporting disability inclusion events and expand its support to AFL Open”.

More details including team announcements and schedules for the 2024 Toyota AFL Open will be announced closer to event.

Head to play.afl and follow AFL state and territory social media accounts for the latest updates.

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