The Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championship is back for 2023.
The Championship is decided by the nation’s very best Wheelchair AFL athletes in an annual representative carnival.
Competitors represent their state or territory and showcase their abilities for thousands of viewers every year.
Meet the fierce competitors who will represent the RSL this November and fight to take home the winning prize.
Sam Maraldo served in the Navy from 2008 until 2015. He is signed to the Essendon Wheelchair AFL team, where he fills the co-captain position for the 2023 season. He has recently started para ice hockey and previously took part in the Invictus Games in 2014 and 2018, competing in both archery and sitting volleyball.
He enjoys other sports like AFL, cricket, rugby union, and golf, and also has an interest in psychology and history.
Danielle enlisted in Army Reserve with MUR in 1989 before transferring out as a junior NCO to enlist in the RAN as an Aviation Technician working on the Sea King helicopters. She had operational service on HMAS Manoora and commissioned to Engineering Officer before being medically discharged in 2019. Danielle was also part of the 2023 Invictus Games team for indoor rowing, as well as wheelchair basketball and rugby.
She has an Assistance Dog from Integra Service Dogs Australia named Poppy and supports Richmond in the AFL.
Matthew served in the Army from 1994-2016 in key areas like Artillery, Catering, and Transport. He was deployed to East Timor from 1999-2000.
He has been a member of the RSL Active Wheelchair Aussie Rules team since 2019 and represented Australia in Wheelchair Rugby and Archery (Compound) at the 2018 Invictus Games, where he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his efforts.
In last year’s National Championships, Matthew was selected as Centre in the All Australian team.
Matthew enjoys playing adaptive sports, competing in Wheelchair Aussie Rules for the Collingwood Magpies.
Brett was a member of the Collingwood Wheelchair AFL Premiership, winning team in 2018 and 2021, as well as the 2019 Premiership runners-up team. He currently plays with Collingwood Football Club.
Brett was medically discharged in 2012 after ongoing knee injuries required a total knee replacement and suffered from permanent hearing loss and severe PTSD upon return.
Using his experiences, Brett is passionate about encouraging people, particularly men, to speak up and talk about their feelings.
Rye Shawcroft Served in the Australian Army from 2014-2015. He previously competed in the 2018 Invictus Games, 2019 Warrior Games and the 2019 WCAR nationals, competing in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair AFL, seated volleyball, and swimming.
In 2022, Rye was the recipient of the Australian Sports Medal.
Rye's interests include participating in a variety of adaptive sports, instrumental music and civil engineering.
James Barker enlisted in the Army Ready Reserve in 1992, transferring to Australian Regular Army in 1994. During his time in service, he posted to 2 Royal Australian Regiment, Lavarack Barracks and then to Infantry Battalion as Army Chef. James transitioned from service in 2000.
Team sports have always played an important role in James’s life, more so during rehabilitation after sustaining physical injuries from a vehicle accident. James plays wheelchair sports, and in 2022 his team won the South Australian National Football League. He also plays wheelchair basketball in the SA wheelchair social league.
James was also selected and travelled to Germany for the 2023 Invictus Games, competing in cycling, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. He is the vice-captain of the wheelchair basketball team.
Matt Brumby is a World-Champion para-athlete Ironman/Half Ironman, Invictus Games Co-Captain and Gold Medalist, and Motivational Speaker. Matt joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1994 as a Steward, spending time on-board HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Brisbane.
He was medically separated in 2001 following a spinal injury. Undeterred, Matt’s diagnosis opened new opportunities. Within a few years he competed in his first para-triathlon, narrowly missing out on selection for the Paralympics in Rio, before switching to long distance triathlons, winning the para-athlete 2016 Half Ironman and 2019 Ironman World Championships.
In 2018, Matt co-captained the Australian team at the Invictus Games, and continues to work with athletes of all abilities to help them achieve their best while focusing on his own sporting and exercise goals.
Andi joined the Australian Army in 1995, serving with 26 Transport Squadron as a Driver. She transitioned to the Army Reserves in 2004 as a Movement Operator, before finishing up her time in service as Military Police when medically separated in 2008.
A mother to two sons, Andi has competed with Victorian and National Canoe Polo teams and is looking forward to moving into Wheelchair AFL.
Wayne enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in 1993 with his first sea posting to HMAS Newcastle as an Electronic Technical Weapons System Maintainer.
His service saw him on Patrol Boats at Darwin Naval Base, changing branches to Air Technical Avionics, and also included a posting to Director General Technical Airworthiness. Wayne later worked for Air Force Test Ranges Squadron.
Wayne has represented Defence in sport at the Arafura Games in Darwin on four occasions.
Impairments from military life led Wayne to wheelchair sports, which have been tremendous for rehabilitation and social engagement after 25 years in the Military environment.
Best of luck to Team RSL – let the games begin!
When: 9:00am – 4:30pm from Thursday 2 November to Friday 5 November 2023.
Where: State Netball & Hockey Centre, 10 Brens Drive, Parkville, VIC 3052 OR watch it live. More information HERE.
Wheelchair AFL is a completely inclusive sport and allows people of all ages and disability levels to participate.
Each game is played between two teams of five, plus interchange players, on a rectangular indoor court divided into thirds with goal posts at either end of the field. Scoring is identical to traditional AFL: six points for a goal and one point for a behind.
A handball is equivalent to a kick and an underarm throw is equivalent to a handball (for example the ball is ‘in play’ and the player who receives an underarm throw can be ‘tackled’).