By ZAC MILBANK
The inaugural Novita SANFL Wheelchair Football League is set to spin off on Friday night, with a double-header to be played at Lights Community and Sports Centre.
With four SANFL clubs – Woodville-West Torrens, Norwood, Sturt and Central District – involved the competition is the first of its kind in South Australia.
A total of 32 players have been drafted by the four SANFL clubs, with each team consisting of 7-8 players of mixed gender and a blend of those with, and without, a disability, ensuring the sport is attractive for everyone to participate.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, Woodville-West Torrens defender Chris Simpson said he was eagerly anticipating the season-opener, having played the sport for at least five years.
The experienced backman initially took up Wheelchair Football to play alongside of his son Nathan, who has cerebral palsy and now treasures the 2016 National Championship title they won together playing for South Australia.
Played on a basketball court with goal posts at either end, Wheelchair Football involves teams of five facing off against each other with two defenders, two forwards and one midfielder.
A handball in Wheelchair Football is equivalent of a ‘kick’ and an underarm throw equates to a ‘handball’ as per regular Australian Football rules.
”It’s a fast, fun, tactical and skilful game and we encourage everyone to give it a go,” SANFL Disability Programs Coordinator Nathan Pepper said.
”South Australia has been a four-time champion at the Wheelchair Aussie Rules National Carnival from 2016 to 2019, so the new league will build on this success and create an opportunity to play regularly in a local competition.”