The AFL, its 18 Clubs and AFL / AFLW players through the AFL Players’ Association have today announced a donation of $2.5 million to support communities impacted by the bushfires across Australia.
A donation of $1 million will immediately go towards relief efforts and provide emergency assistance on the ground through the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund.
A further $1.5 million will be donated into a Community Relief Fund set up by the AFL that will support the local communities in fire affected areas to repair and rebuild their local football clubs, including helping footballing families in these impacted areas.
The $2.5 million donation includes $900,000 from the 18 clubs ($50,000 per club), the AFL and AFLW players have contributed $250,000 directly from the AFL Players’ Association’s charity fund, AFL Players Care, and the AFL has contributed $1.35 million.
In addition to the club contribution to the bushfire relief, a separate donation of $12,500 has been made by the Western Bulldogs AFL players, football department staff, Board and Community Foundation to the cause.
The Western Bulldogs are also continuing to explore additional club-led fundraising initiatives to support the bushfire relief, with more details to come.
Additionally, the AFL, with support from the Clubs and AFLPA, will host a State of Origin match on Friday 28 February at Marvel Stadium with all money raised to further support the Community Relief Fund.
Victoria, to be coached by Richmond Premiership coach Damien Hardwick, and the All Stars, led by Sydney Swans Premiership coach John Longmire, will bring players together from each of the 18 clubs on the eve of the Toyota AFL Premiership Season.
AFLW clubs will further support fundraising efforts by hosting donation collection points at matches in season 2020, starting Friday 7 February, along with additional initiatives currently being explored with clubs and the AFLPA to be announced in the coming weeks.
AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan made the announcement at Marvel Stadium today and said it was important that the football industry came together to support communities in need.
He said while the industry was reacting to the fires over the past few weeks, it was also mindful that the danger potentially posed by bushfires would continue over the coming months.
“Our industry is heartbroken by the devastation that the fires are causing around the country and our clubs and players have suggested a number of initiatives where we can support affected communities in the short and longer term as they deal with the aftermath of these fires.” Mr McLachlan said.
“A game of footy can’t change what has happened but it is a way for all of our Clubs, our players and our fans to acknowledge the incredible sacrifice that so many have made in battling the fires and to support those communities that have been impacted by the bushfires.
“We know that those communities are suffering now but they are also going to need our support as they start to rebuild. Sport builds bonds within communities and we want people to know they have the support of the entire football industry and that we will be there to help them rebuild facilities and programs and ensure people continue to come together. The State of Origin game will help raise further funds to support that ongoing rebuild.
“I want to thank our players and clubs for their commitment to doing something substantial that raises money and clearly demonstrates the support to the local football communities of those areas impacted. Our clubs and our AFL and AFLW players are also working on a number of other initiatives to raise money and to support those communities in need and we will continue to work with them over the coming weeks and months to continue to coordinate our efforts.
“On behalf of the AFL community, I also want to thank firefighters, members of the emergency services and defence forces and the various support agencies and the thousands of volunteers have given up their time - and in some cases their lives - to protect others. We are grateful for what you have done for our community.
“Through the rebuild stage, we will work closely with local business, local tradesmen and local suppliers to ensure what we are doing also supports the local economy.
“We are also working closely with other national sports to ensure that we coordinate our response and we will continue discussions with the Federal and State Governments on how we best work together to provide ongoing support until these communities are back on their feet.”
AFLPA President Patrick Dangerfield said the players pledged their support for the match and donation without hesitation.
“It was an immediate ‘yes’ when the State of Origin concept was put to players by the AFLPA.
We, like everyone, are heartbroken and desperate to help. We’re committed to putting on a great event for fans and hopefully raise a significant amount of money,” he said.
“In addition to committing to this match, we’re proud to be able to make a $250,000 donation on behalf of all male and female players, which will be split amongst various charities to support those affected.
“We know this is not something that will be instantly fixed by a donation and a game of football, so AFL and AFLW players will continue to identify ways to make a difference where they can, as communities look to rebuild.
“We’re in awe of those on the front line of this disaster and we take great inspiration from the bravery, spirit and sacrifice that’s been shown by our emergency service workers and volunteers, and want to acknowledge those Australians in particular.”
The State of Origin match will be broadcast live by the Seven Network and Foxtel, and via Kayo and the AFL Live App thanks to Telstra, along with radio partners to be confirmed shortly.
Further details of the State of Origin match, including team selections will be announced in the coming weeks.