IDPwD Athlete Profiles: Malani

Meet all abilities football player, Malani I’Anson. 

Malani I’Anson is the sole female player for the Ballarat Bulldogs football team. The Ballarat Bulldogs are a football and netball club for people with intellectual disability. They are mixed gender teams consisting of people aged between 14 and 50 years. The Bulldogs compete in the AFL Victoria FIDA Western Country Conference and play against other all abilities teams from the Grampians, Hamilton, Warrnambool and the Wimmera.

Up until the establishment of the Ballarat Bulldogs in 2016, Malani was unable to play the sport because there was no local team suitable for her ability. This meant that Malani made her football debut only two years ago at the age of 39! When she first heard about the Bulldogs team coming to Ballarat she was excited but nervous because she hadn’t really kicked a football before. Two years on she is a duel-premiership player who absolutely loves the sport.

Malani recalls winning the Coach’s Award in 2016 as her biggest sporting highlight. “It’s the best bloody thing I’ve ever won” she explained. Malani also really enjoyed winning back to back premierships with the Bulldogs in the past two seasons. She is already keen for the 2018 season to begin so they can make it three premierships in a row.

Malani loves the social aspect of the game. “Playing football is just awesome. It helps to get me out of the house and I get to meet heaps of cool new people” she said. It doesn’t worry her one bit that she is the only female on her team, in fact she enjoys it and believes that because she is the only female it is her job to control all of the other male players.

When asked about thoughts of retirement Malani shrugged off the idea. She said that not only does she have no plans of retiring soon but she wants to chase down one of her friend’s 300 game record.

Sports Central work closely with the Ballarat Bulldogs FNC and other organisations to provide inclusive sporting opportunities so that Malani and other people with disability can enjoy the sports that they love!

For further details about the Ballarat Bulldogs All Abilities Football Netball Club please visit