Melbourne HSPer tries footy

Hawthorn AFL Club program


Alastair McNeil

HSPer Alastair McNeil has signed up for the 2020 season with the Hawthorn Football Club Wheelchair team.


Hawthorn Football Club is one of five AFL teams competing in AFL Wheelchair in Victoria. Hawthorn describe themselves as one club, many teams, including an AFL Women’s team and an AFL Blind team.



Alastair was interviewed recently for the club’s website:


Tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do outside of footy?

I studied Film and Television and have done a lot of study within the film industry at RMIT. I have previously worked with the AFL and Fox Footy in video editing. I have also done some volunteering at Box Hill Hawks doing video editing and producing.


So, this is your first year playing wheelchair AFL. What made you pursue AFL and how did you get involved? 

I got involved by going to an open day after I saw a post on Facebook. I thought I’d give it a go and I quickly fell in love with the game. Everyone was so nice and supportive and now I cannot wait to get started.

Being your first year in the sport, what does it mean for you to play, and what are you looking forward to the most?

I’m looking forward to getting out there with new mates and being a part of a tight-knit community. At the end of the day, I really want to win with the Hawks – that is what I’m looking forward to most.


Wheelchair sports have a wide range of people who participate, with various stories and challenges. What was your pathway into wheelchair sport and what are some of the challenges you face daily and in sport?

I played footy when I was younger before I was diagnosed with my condition. I have a condition that affects my lower limbs called Hereditary Spastic Paraparesis. It’s quite rare, I am pretty sure it affects about 1 in 50,000. I was diagnosed at the end of high school in 2012. It has gradually gotten worse over time and now I have to use crutches or a wheelchair when I go out.


What is your ultimate sporting goal and what is a life goal of yours?

I would love to improve my wheelchair sports skills and hopefully make a national team one day. A life goal is to get into the film industry, in America hopefully.


If you could encourage people to try your sport, what would you say to them?

Just come down to an open day or a ‘come and try’ day and give it a go. Everyone is really friendly and supportive. I am sure you would enjoy it, so give it a crack.


What does it mean to be drafted to Hawthorn Football Club’s wheelchair team?

I was really surprised, to be honest. I have only played for a short time, but it means a lot. I love football in general and always have.


Read the full interview


Hawthorn’s Wheelchair and Blind football teams are made possible by the club’s social inclusion partner, Afford, one of Australia’s longest-serving disability service providers. Find out more about Hawthorn’s Social Inclusion Partner Afford by heading to their website.


SOURCE: Hawthorn Football Club news May 16, 2020

Getting to know: Alistair McNeil

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