“It’s the most incredible bunch of human beings you’d ever imagine,” proclaimed Luke Massey, the filmmaker behind upcoming television series ‘Be Dragons’ which follows the creation of Geelong’s first ever football team for people with disabilities – the Geelong Dragons. “Some of the stuff these people have been through, it would have broken me. But they just turn up and they smile the whole time. They have ups and downs like any footy team, but they’re so positive. They’re finally belonging to something that they’ve never been able to do. To them, they’re playing AFL.
“Geelong’s a pretty footy-mad town, it’s sort of like our identity. The Football Integration Development Association (FIDA) has been running for a few years but Geelong never had a team in it. There were one or two players who used to travel on the train to Melbourne. They’d leave at seven in the morning then get back at eight o’clock at night.
“The idea of making the team started with Tim Downes at Leisure Networks. They do an amazing job of putting together sport, recreation and all sorts of activities for young people who have disabilities. He looked into what leagues might be available and decided on the Western Districts League to start with.
“Training has just begun for this season and we’ve got that many players that we have to have two teams. To be eligible, players must either meet Sport Inclusion Australia classifications, have attended a specialist school or had a support program at a mainstream school, or be registered with the NDIS or a disability service and support provider.
“Other than that, there’s no limit to who can play. We’ve got guys who are fifteen and sixteen, and older players in their late thirties and early forties. We had three or four girls play last year and there should be more this year. The disabilities players have range from eyesight and hearing problems, to anxiety, to intellectual disabilities.
“Jai Smith is the coach and he was inspired from the moment he walked in. He’s a friend of mine and got me to come down with my camera. I filmed the season and helped out where I could. It’s all volunteer run so once I became involved, my wife and kids were all down there too running water and helping out. You couldn’t think of a better way to bring up your children than seeing and being involved with these inspirational people!
“We’ve formed a footy club out of nothing. It’s just one of those things everyone wants to be involved in.”
The TV show is set to be a six-part series.
“We’ve put the trailer out and are aiming to have it air sometime in June,” Luke said. “I’ve joined up with a production company called Meadow Media and we’re finishing putting the series together.”
“We’ve had a lot of people looking to help after seeing the trailer. There are some amazing people out there. You give them the opportunity and they really want to do good. Anyone who wants to come down to training, we’d love all the help and support we can get. We’re also always looking for sponsors to help cover the costs of bus trips and equipment.”
Check out the Geelong Dragon’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/geelongdragonsFIDAfootball/ for more information on how you can get involved.
Watch the trailer here: https://tinyurl.com/y5t6xp4s
Story: April Austen. Photo: Supplied. Trailer: Luke Massey and Meadow Media