Image: (L-R) Collingwood VWFL captain Brendan Stroud, Collingwood AFL footballer Steele Sidebottom and Team 22 Ambassador Beau Vernon
The reigning premiers of the Victorian Wheelchair Football League, the Collingwood Football Club, will complete a lap of honour at the MCG on Friday April 12 during the AFL’s round four clash between Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. But the inaugural premiers will be doing more than soaking up the applause of fans. They’ll also be celebrating the launch of the Robert Rose Foundation’s exciting new fundraising initiative, Team 22.
Robert Rose played football for Collingwood and Footscray in the VFL in the early 1970s. Robert was 22 when he became a quadriplegic after a car accident in 1974. Following his death in 1999, Robert’s family launched the Robert Rose Foundation. The foundation raises money to support people with spinal cord injuries and their families by providing funding for equipment and home modifications as well as psychological support. The foundations also supports opportunities to participate in activities like wheelchair Aussie Rules and is the naming rights sponsor of the Victorian Wheelchair Football League (VWFL). Team 22 is aiming to raise $500,000 dollars to continue and expand the vital work the foundation has been doing for the past twenty years.
The power of two
The Team 22 initiative recognises the significance of the number 22 for the foundation. Both Robert and his father, Collingwood legend Bob Rose, wore the number 22 and Robert was 22 when he had his accident. The number also speaks to the power of two people coming together to support each other.
For Team 22 ambassador, Beau Vernon, the power of two has been played an important role in his life following the sporting accident that saw him become a quadriplegic.
‘When my accident occurred, I was understandably devastated, and my vision of my future was shattered,’ Beau said.
The premiership winning coach credits the support of his partner, family and friends and the wider community for helping him to rebuild that vision.
‘Without it… I don’t know what would have happened. Now I coach footy, surf, play golf–with modified equipment–and am a father to two beauties. The work that the Robert Rose Foundation does, supporting survivors with equipment, participation opportunities and most importantly, mental health and wellbeing services, cannot be underestimated. It’s vital. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had the same from my community.’
Alongside the lap of honour, a Collingwood VWFL player will toss the coin before the game. And outside the MCG, the VWFL will run demonstrations of wheelchair Aussie Rules between Gates 3 and 4 from 5pm. Team 22 volunteers will be on hand to take donations. In addition, donations can be made online at www.team22.com.au
Want to know more about the VWFL?
The Robert Rose Foundation Victorian Wheelchair Football League launched in 2018 with five teams: the Collingwood Magpies, Hawthorn Hawks, Essendon Bombers, St. Kilda Saints and the Richmond Tigers. In 2019, the Robert Rose Foundation Victorian Wheelchair Football League will again feature five teams. The competition will run from May through to September.
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