THE AFL is proud to join the wider community to celebrate International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) on Friday, December 3.

The United Nations observed day celebrates the contributions and achievements of people with disability and increases public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability across the world.

The AFL's commitment to making the game accessible and inclusive for all continues to be a priority, with the establishment of a number of new inclusion programs in 2021 extending participation opportunities for people with disability.

In the last 12 months, three inaugural state-based AFL Wheelchair Leagues have been established in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia, while Western Australia and Tasmania launched their first state-based Inclusion Academy to support the best footballing talent with an intellectual disability.

Across the country, there are more than 30 bespoke inclusion football programs available including AFL Blind, Inclusion, Wheelchair, and deaf football, while NAB AFL Auskick and community football programs offer inclusive options and accessible environments for people of all ages and abilities to participate.

Despite the impacts of COVID-19, participation in community football and NAB AFL Auskick for people with disability was strong, with an increase of 14 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectfully compared to 2019.

AFL Inclusion programs for people with an intellectual disability in South Australia (SANFL Inclusive Football League), Western Australia (Integrated Football League) and Victoria (Football Integrated Football League) achieved record player registrations in 2021, while the Victorian Wheelchair Football League and AFL Blind League were among some of the only community football competitions in the state to complete their season.

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What is AFL Blind? Why footy is so important for Bridget

Celebrate inclusion this 3 December for International Day of People with Disability - Australia

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Season 2021 also saw the appointment of Geelong Cats AFL captain Joel Selwood as the AFL's inaugural Disability Inclusion Ambassador to help raise awareness of disability inclusion football programs, particularly the Toyota AFL National Inclusion Carnival and Toyota National Wheelchair AFL Championships.

With one in six Australians living disability, AFL Executive General Manager Game Development Rob Auld said it was pleasing to see participation in disability inclusion football grow across the country.

"Australian Football has a great ability to create social connection, camaraderie and inclusiveness, and we hope that the establishment of new inclusive football programs encourages more people with disability across the country to get involved in their local football team," Mr. Auld said.

"I'd like to thank Toyota for their ongoing support of our national inclusion initiatives, and their help in increasing the game's accessibility to allow more people to enjoy our great sport."

AFL Executive General Manager Social Policy and Inclusion, Tanya Hosch said it was important to celebrate inclusion and continue to make Australian Football accessible for all people.

"International Day of People with Disability is a wonderful occasion to celebrate the contribution people with disability have on our game and showcase the wide variety of inclusive football programs available across the country.  It is also a much-needed reminder that we need to continue to work to ensure that we are including the contributions of people with disabilities in our game and in our workplaces and communities.

"Today is an opportunity for us to commit to making positive changes to the lives of the 4.4 million Australians with disability."

Click the links below to learn more about the various AFL Inclusion programs available:

AFL Blind - What is AFL blind? Why footy is so important for Bridget | AFL

AFL Wheelchair - What is AFL Wheelchair? Why footy is so important for Jude | AFL

AFL Inclusion - What is AFL Inclusion? Why footy is so important for Jason | AFL

NAB AFL Auskick – https://youtu.be/8q8KtsHu1dw 

AFL Inclusion Talent Academy - Michael Walters' heartwarming gift to the feel good football Academy | AFL

For more information on AFL disability inclusion programs, visit community.afl/all-abilities or follow AFL Inclusion