AFL - Allow Young Man With Disability To Play Football Before Season Ends

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Linton Hardy is an exceptional young man (20) who has Simpson–Golabi–Behmel Syndrome. It is an extremely rare syndrome (best explained with a Google) of which less than 150 people worldwide have been diagnosed. As part of SGBS, Linton has suffered from an "overgrowth" syndrome and a mild intellectual disability. Linton lives at home with his parents and its unlikely he will be able to live independently.

Medical opinion was that Linton would not be able to achieve a great deal in life, Linton has proved them all wrong including passing Year 12 VCAL and working part time. When Linton was 16, he played in his football clubs Under 15 Premiership side. A permit was sought and approved to allow him to do this. Permits have been given to many players with no disability at all, and to players to make up team numbers in the past.

Linton turned 20 in February, just before the start of the season and AFL South East have refused a permit to allow him to play in the Under 19's a final time. AFL South East are worried that he might hurt someone. You would have to wonder why....last week Linton appeared on the front page of our local paper wearing his Under 15 Premiership jumper at 20 years of age (see photo of Linton with his father, Linton Senior). It still fits him, he is still about the same height and weight that he was when he played in the Under 15 Premiership side against 14 year olds. But the AFL South East in its wisdom, thinks that despite being roughly the same size as he was 4 years ago in the Under 15's, that he might hurt someone that he plays against in the Under 19's. Linton is 6'3 in the old scale and 98 kgs, many under 19 league players are bigger than him.

AFL South East have also essentially said, bad luck, we changed the permit age limits last year (but apparently didnt tell anyone such as players who it might affect). Local football until recently had a common sense approach to issues like this, the permit system like the education system allowed those who were not at a certain level to stay down a year. Now that the AFL has involved itself in local football, we have a new system of bureaucracy and red tape. Linton is not at a level where he would be picked to play senior (seconds) football.

Last week, the AFL approved an application by former Collingwood player Dane Swan to play for Westmeadows Football Club on Anzac day. That's despite the AFL paying Swan a $400,000 insurance payout because of a career ending injury that (apparently) stopped him from playing football ever again. Linton, who was named after his great great uncle killed at Gallipoli in 1915, didn't get to play in Anzac week because the AFL were obviously too busy pandering to the rich and famous.

Please help us to pressure the AFL South East in to approving a permit to allow young Linton to play under 19's football at the club he has played for all his life. The AFL promote fairness and inclusiveness, but it seems to have gone missing in this case. Playing football has been a key factor in Linton's personal development, it has helped him to kick goals off the field as well as on it. Linton's case has wide community support, but we need to harness this support in to a petition to be noticed. We are seeking assistance from the Australian Human Rights Commission on this matter and are also seeking pro bono support from a lawyer prepared to assist on a legal basis.

We would very much appreciate the support of people with a sense of " a fair go ", if the AFL can make a variation to its policy in Dane Swan's case then there is no reason why they cannot make a variation to the policy in Linton's case.

Thank you for your support, it means a lot to us and a lot to young Linton. Please share and encourage others to sign this petition, we have our backs to the wall against a big corporate organisation who will be more than willing to wait us out until the season finishes.