Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
WATCH THE VIDEO: See the highlights from a game of balloon football played at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Balloon football is an all abilities version of Australian rules, played on a basketball court with a large balloon for a ball. Players use wheelchairs, with five in a side. An all stars match of this ingenious game was played during a recent inclusion forum hosted by Sport and Recreation Victoria.
The forum attracted more than 100 representatives from organisations as diverse as Scope Australia, Leisure Networks, University of Melbourne, VicHealth, the Southern Lights ice hockey team and Gippsland Ranges Roller Derby.
A key finding from the forum was that an inclusive environment in sport and recreation is key to building a more inclusive society and helping people of all abilities become mentally and physically healthier.
Two of the standouts of the day were Jye Yates of Bendigo Balloon Football League and Emily Buxton D’Arcy of disability support group, Scope Australia, who outlined how Jye had set up the Bendigo Balloon Football League after searching YouTube for sports he and his mates could play.
Jye is now a leading player, captain and coach and has found employment helping mentor students, including those from Catherine McAuley College who volunteer with the league as part of their Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning studies.
Jye captained the St Kilda Saints all-stars team who defeated the Western Bulldogs all-stars team in a ferociously competitive game. More than 300 spectators were in attendance to cheer the teams on, with an all abilities band playing music at half-time.