Rowett Part of History Making State Team
It was a big year for Cardiff youngster, Damon Rowett who not only was a member of Cardiff’s Reserve Grade Premiership winning team, but also represented NSW/ACT in the AFL Inclusion Carnival which was held on the Gold Coast in July.
The AFL National Inclusion Carnival is an annual representative carnival for athletes with an intellectual disability. The carnival not only gives some of Australia’s most talented footballers the chance to represent their State/Territory but is also an opportunity to showcase the significant abilities of footballers with an Intellectual Disability to the broader community.
It is the second consecutive year that the 19 year old has been selected in the state team, and was part of a side that performed above expectation reaching the Grand Final for the first time.
Qualifying for ‘Pool A’ for the first time in the state’s history, the Rams began their week with five wins from seven ‘lightening’ matches, to ensure their spot against the top states.
Though their first official match against Vic Metro was a loss, the team rallied in their second match to overcome Vic Country for the first time since NSW/ACT joined the event in 2013.
Notoriously difficult to defeat, the Vic Country side would eventually play in – and win – the third place playoff match for the carnival in the finals.
Needing a win against tournament hosts Queensland in their third match, the NSW/ACT side were relentless in their quest to make the AFL Inclusion Grand Final, and were victorious by the siren.
Coming up against Vic Metro – the back-to-back- defending champions – in the Grand Final, the NSW/ACT Rams knew they were in for a fight.
In the end, the Vics would be flying the Peter Ryan Cup home with them, but for all teams involved in the carnival, the week was about much more than winning.
Damon's father Peter was complimentary of the support Damien receives not just from hos club, Cardiff but from the whole AFL region:
“I believe Damon’s selection and participation in the AFL National Inclusion Carnival comes as a result of the support he has received not only from the Cardiff Hawks Australian Football Club over the years that he has been playing there, but also from the wider AFL community in the Hunter Region”. Rowett said
“It is a credit to all of the clubs he has played against in both Junior and Senior Football that they have embraced a number of players with a disability, allowing them to participate in mainstream sport.
It is my hope that Damon's participation in this Carnival will be an encouragement for other players with an intellectual disability in the Hunter and Central Coast regions to aspire to represent NSW in the coming years”.
AFL General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch said the AFL National Inclusion Carnival is a true indication the AFL is committed to building opportunities to play the game, ensuring it is accessible to all.
“The AFL supports and promotes inclusion of our game at all levels and the AFL National Inclusion Carnival provides an opportunity for players to play the game they love, socialise with their friends and be a part of a national event playing for their State or Territory,” Ms. Hosch said.
“The carnival not only gives some of Australia’s most talented footballers the chance to represent their State or Territory, but is also an opportunity to showcase the significant abilities of footballers with an intellectual disability to the broader community.
“To have the opportunity to pull on their State or Territory jumpers may be a dream for these footballers but the personalities we see on the field and the great stories we hear is what really captures the true spirit of the carnival.”
AFL NSW/ACT Team Manager, Daniel Borzuola said that the boys had a remarkable tournament.
“[The Grand Final loss] Hit a couple of the boys a bit hard, but overall they are ecstatic with their performance during the week.”