(Ed. note: Footy fans in North America can make donations using the links at the bottom of this article.)
by Johnson Leung reporting for AFANA in Melbourne
The AFL has rescheduled a NAB Cup clash between the Western Bulldogs and Essendon from Darwin to Melbourne on Friday February 13, to raise funds for communities devastated by this month's Victorian bushfires.
AFL Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou said the league, the players and the 16 clubs wanted to work together to raise funds and show their support for the communities affected by the fires and the emergency service workers and volunteers who have risked their lives to fight the fires or provide support. He said the match was moved to Melbourne after discussions with the Victorian State Government.
Tickets for the match, retitled the NAB Cup Bushfire Appeal Game, goes on sale at 1pm Melbourne time on Tuesday, February 10. All proceeds from the match would be donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund along with the estimated A$250,000 the AFL would save by not traveling to Darwin. (Competition sponsor National Australia Bank has kicked off the fund by donating A$1 million) Telstra Dome and ticket agency Ticketmaster would also donate their takings from the game.
The match will be shown around Australia on Fox Sports and also in Victoria on Channel Seven and its regional affiliate Prime Television. Seven is working with Telstra Dome to establish up to 150 telephone lines in the stadium's Victory Room where AFL stars from other clubs will answer calls and take donations. (AFANA will post updated TV schedules on our TV schedules page.)
Demetriou said he was overwhelmed by the response from the players, the clubs and others in the industry who wanted to join together to help communities devastated by the bushfires, adding more measures would be revealed in the next few weeks. He urged all football supporters to give money and blood to assist the appeal. "This is a tragedy that has affected all Australians, and I think you will see some wonderful support on the night from people all over the country," he said.
Demetriou also thanked NAB, broadcasters Foxtel, Fox Sports and Channel Seven and for their support of this initiative, and the support of Telstra Dome to host the match. He stressed Friday's match was only the beginning of the AFL's support for ravaged communities, with the league likely to work with the Victorian Country Football League to help community football clubs regroup.
The Bulldogs-Bombers game will echo cricket's fundraising match in January 2005 for victims of the Asian tsunami, which attracted 70,000 supporters to the MCG and raised more than A$15 million for charity group World Vision.
Richmond has already raised A$50,000 for the bushfire fund after giving 100 supporters the chance to have their photo taken with the team at Punt Road Oval on February 19. The target was reached in less than 24 hours. "We have been overwhelmed by the goodwill and support of the Richmond faithful," Tigers captain Chris Newman said. "You see the amount of lives that it's affected, and you can't just sit down and not do anything about it."
Players from most clubs will visit Red Cross Blood Banks this week, while Collingwood is set to raise A$100,000 through various initiatives, including selling 1000 three-game memberships at A$75 each, giving Pies fans a chance to be in a team photo with every club player for A$500, and auctioning signed club memorabilia.
As of February 10 (February 9 US time), 173 people have perished in the Victorian bushfires, which destroyed more than 750 homes and hundreds of thousands of acres of land. It is now the worst natural disaster in Victoria and Australia, surpassing the death toll of 75 in the Ash Wednesday fires of February 1983 and 71 in the Black Friday fires of January 1939.
Fans in the USA and Canada who wish to donate can do so either to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal (which has so far raised nearly A$90 million) or the Salvation Army Bushfire Appeal (which has raised A$11 million):
Australian Red Cross appeal: http://www.redcross.org.au/default.asp
You can also give through the US and Canadian Red Cross:
Canadian Red Cross: http://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/international-programs/emergencies-and-disasters-worldwide?tid=001
American Red Cross: http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main&s_subsrc=RCO_RedTab&s_src=DRF
(For these please designate your donation to "Australian bushfires appeal")
Sources: AFL and Collingwood press releases, richmondfc.com.au, Herald Sun, The Age, Author's notes
Article last changed on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 5:32 PM EDT