Doing their home state proud, the Tasmania Devils secured top spot in Division Two at the 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships, held in Victoria from 2-5 November 2023.
Players and officials couldn’t wipe the smiles from their faces after hard-fought matches saw them make it to the top of their table.
Throughout two days of the Lightning Round, Tasmania was knocking on the door of a Division One spot but missed out by the smallest of margins.
“We struggled early to work as a team and the way we had been practicing the last few months I’d say due to having brand new team members join us. That was definitely the main challenge,” Captain Josh Christian reflected.
Determined to do their absolute best, the Devils didn’t let the challenge beat them.
“We were able to re-group after Day One and then things started to click.
“We started playing our brand of footy as a whole team. We only lost 1 game after day one,” Josh explained.
In their Division Two games the Devils beat both the NT and NSW/ACT before meeting that team again in the Grand Final. The final score was 82-49.
The competition was the culmination of months of hard work, getting players together from around Tasmania for training.
Each and every player contributed to the fantastic outcome, and ParaQuad Tasmania congratulates them all: Josh Christian (Captain, pictured below left holding the Cup with Joe Chivers), Jack Anders, Hayden Farley, Martyn Ford, Jason Jinks, Trent Johnson, Adam Nossiter and Nath Tanner. And of course, Coach Joe Chivers and Team Manager Barry Gaby, both from AFL Tasmania.
“It feels amazing to come back with the Div 2 cup,” Josh said on his return.
In Division One, Victoria Metro took out top spot, defeating WA in their Grand Final. South Australia came in third spot. Other teams to compete were Victoria Country, Queensland and the RSL.
Josh was named Tasmania’s Best and Fairest and also received the Brendan Stroud Award for Best on Ground in the Grand Final.
“It’s been a massive year and I now get to spend some time away from airplanes and footballs which is nice. I feel like this was the perfect end to the year,” said Josh, who plays for Collingwood throughout the year.
ParaQuad Tasmania’s Kevin Faulkner presented the medal in his name to the Division One Grand Final Best On Ground winner, James Weinert.
As the inventor of Wheelchair AFL (then called Wheelchair Aussie Rules), Kevin was a VIP guest at the Championships. He spoke on a panel at the Welcome Function and was courtside, cheering on the Devils.
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Photo credit: AFL