Premiership showdown on balloon football court

The Bulldogs have taken out the fifth Bendigo balloon football grand final, triumphing over the Kangaroos 81 to 34.

The all-abilities game is based on AFL football and sees teams of five players in wheelchairs play on Eaglehawk’s Peter Krenz Leisure Centre with a giant balloon.

Players score six points for a goal and one for a behind. Wheelchairs can be manual or motorised.

While her team had not made it to the finals, Bombers player Kim Mammoliti cheered her husband and Kangaroos player Vinnie.

I hope it’s a good game,” she said.

Mrs Mammoliti said the sport’s appeal was that it allowed everybody to play a sport.

“We can play the game as anybody would,’ she said.

Jock Ainger had been playing balloon football for two seasons, first with the Blues and this season with the Saints.

“I play it because I’m a sports fanatic. I wish I was out there now,” he said.

The road to the Grand Final was easier for the Kangaroos than the Bulldogs. 

The ‘Roos cruised through the finals after winning a semi-final and going straight through to the second Tuesday in September with a week off.

Meanwhile, last year’s premiers had to prove themselves with a win over the determined Saints last week in the preliminary final.

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The grand final was especially significant for Bulldogs player Jye Yates, who almost missed the grand final because of a medical operation that had been scheduled for the same day.

Mr Yates was known as one of the league’s most passionate players and the Bulldogs wanted to pay tribute to their missing teammate with a message on their banner reading “doin’ it for Jye – Bulldogs 2017”.

Yet last week Mr Yates got an unexpected call postponing the procedure and was able yesterday to lead his team through the grand final banner.

Mr Yates smashed the first goal and helped the Bulldogs out to a 32-point lead by the first break.

The Kangaroos put up a strong effort but it was the Bulldogs taking home the trophy.

Bulldogs player Deanne Larkins was voted best on ground by Bendigo Thunder team members.

The Balloon Football League – Bendigo Region was organised by local disability support service Scope. To learn more about the league in 2018 contact Scope on 1300 472 673.

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