Leisure Networks Unites Geelong Schools for a day of inclusive fun

Leisure Networks, a leading non-for-profit community organisation, become the connection in bringing five schools together from the Geelong region for a day of exhilarating footy funThe AFL Gala Day was established by Leisure Networks in 2022 to showcase the power of sport in fostering inclusivity and creating an unforgettable experience for students, teachers, carers and everyone involved. 
Now in its second year, the AFL Gala Day once again proved to be a massive success, leaving a lasting impact on all participants. Luke Maher, Program Coordinator for Leisure Networks, expressed his delight, stating: “To see so many smiles and to witness the incredible acceptance of sport by the schools is truly rewarding. It highlights the positive impact sports bring to students, teachers, carers, and the entire community.” 
Barwon Valley, Oberon, Armstrong Creek, Hamlyn Views, and Nelson Park schools joined forces to enjoy a day filled with footy fun, featuring three friendly games. The focus of the event was on creating an inclusive environment where students could enjoy the company of friends, make new social connection, and develop their footy skills. 
In the spirit of inclusion, Cooper, a wheelchair user, was given the honour of throwing the ball into the air to kick off the first game. This act symbolised the essence of the day – celebrating diversity and emphasising inclusion over physical ability. 
Daniel Preston, a Year 11 student from Oberon High School, shared his experience: “Leisure Networks is truly connecting people with the community, just like the AFL Gala Day. I’ve had a fantastic time and even won a football and a few other gifts.” 
A special highlight of the day was the presence of AFLW Cats Players Kate Darby and Renee, who took the time to chat with everyone, providing encouragement and support. Their visit added an extra level of excitement and inspiration to the event. 
The 2023 AFL Gala Day exemplified the commitment of Leisure Networks to ensure everyone, regardless of their abilities, feels included and valued. The event provided a platform for fostering community connections and spreading the message of inclusivity. 

Leisure Networks respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Australia. We are committed to inclusive communities.