“I did worry that people would laugh and that no-one would accept me, so I should just stay in the background”, reflects wheelchair footballer, Yasmina McGlone, a participant in Richmond Football Club’s This Girl Can Victoria program, who was born with the rare movement disorder, Myoclonus Dystonia.
Born and raised in Scotland, McGlone succumbed early to the social isolation associated with her condition. “When I got nervous or anxious, my muscles would all start jerking and it can be all of them – my vocals, my legs to my arms. So trying new things was always a bit more of a struggle. I’d have so much anxiety beforehand. It was like,
are my muscles going to behave?” But one day, McGlone decided she had had enough.
“I just knew that if I kept this attitude, my life wasn’t going to change and I was never really going to be happy”.
The 21-year-old packed her bags and not only flew to the other side of the world, she promised herself she would do things she had never tried, including joining a sports club. But McGlone never envisaged it would be one of the oldest and most popular clubs in Australia.
“I met Jude (Richmond wheelchair football team-mate), who had an accident in 1996 when he was 11, caused by an explosion during the Civil War in Sri Lanka. He told me he was playing wheelchair AFL, so I went along”. Hooked from the moment she watched it and despite her own challenges, which included having never been in a wheelchair before, McGlone eagerly accepted the invitation to try-out for the 2018 inaugural Victorian Wheelchair Football League, which encourages men and women, able bodied and disabled to play together.
“I wasn’t great, to be honest, but I had so much fun! They were all cheering me on and although I was crashing into cones and still trying to get used to the chair, to my surprise, I got a call from Matt, the captain of Richmond, asking me to join their team.”
Added Richard Amon, CEO Disability Sport and Recreation, “Yas came to us for one of our try-outs and virtually could hardly roll a wheelchair. She was terrible! But she’s now one of the best players and she’s really shown that people can do anything if they put their heart, mind and soul to it."
“She is a warrior,” says Richmond teammate, Jude Antony. “The things she goes through is(sic) inspiration for me. She looks able bodied, but she cannot control certain muscles at certain times, very important times. So, she’s continuously fighting against her disability.”
“At the end of the day, everyone has their challenges”, says McGlone. “Some people’s challenges just happen to be in the form of a disability. I choose not to focus on that. I’m just so happy being on the court, playing. Its made me so much more confident than I thought I could ever be and I feel like I’m part of a family; part of this community.”
“This girl can do whatever she sets her mind to.”
Richmond Football Club is a proud partner of VicHealth’s This Girl Can Victoria campaign, celebrating women who are all kinds of active. Women who are giving it their all, or giving it a go, but not giving a damn!