The 2022 Wheelchair AFL National Championships has been run and won, with the (ParaQuad Tasmania) Tasmania Devils finishing an impressive third on the ladder.
Eleven teams from around Australia battled it out over four days of intense competition in Melbourne, from 22-25 November 2022.
The Devils team was (from L-R below), Riley Fitzgerald, Jason Jinks, Adam Georglin, Jack Anders, Trent Johnson (Captain), Ben Winwood, Mitch Stretton, Barry Gaby (Courtside Manager) Joe Chivers (Playing Coach). Adam and Riley were the honorary Tasmanians (Victorians) who joined the team.
“We didn’t have any expectations going into the championship,” Trent Johnson said.
“But during the Lightning Round (to decide division placement), we just came together pretty well.”
They came together so well that after 10 games they made it into Division 1.
The following day saw the Devils lose in a tough match against Victoria Blue and come out on top against Queensland.
“The maroons had beaten Tassie by 50 points the previous day and were looking to come out strong in their first national tournament. But Tasmania were ready too. With a settled line up and a lot of experience on the court, Tasmania beat Queensland comfortably by capitilising on their mistakes,” Playing Coach Joe Chivers said.
It was enough to make it to the semi-final.
Victoria Blue was straight into the grand final and Tasmania had to take on South Australia – a team they’d lost to by only three points the day before.
“Numerous skill errors and fatigue saw South Australia win their way into the Grand Final. They would eventually go on to lose to a strong and refreshed Victoria Blue side,” Joe Chivers reported.
But the Devils came away with a positive experience.
“Having a team from every state and territory was awesome. We caught up with some people we hadn’t seen in years,” Trent Johnson said.
ParaQuad Tasmania congratulated the Devils for finishing third from 11 teams, particularly with a very small pool of players to select from, and a couple of late changes to the line up.
ParaQuad thanked Disability Sports Australia and the AFL for organising the competition and AFL Tasmania for its contribution and management of the team courtside.
And the organisation encourages others to get involved in para sports like Wheelchair AFL.
To find out how, get in touch via email email@example.com or call 6272 881.
All photos courtesy of Nerissa Byrne Photography.