Football season is coming early to Benalla Rural City, with the Essendon AFL Club arriving in February to meet local residents and host a super-clinic for aspiring young football players.
Around 400 children and a variety of community groups will have access to the players and coaching staff during the visit which includes a Civic Reception, training sessions with local clubs and a “Dinner with the Stars” on Tuesday 4 February, and the super-clinic on Wednesday 5 February at the Benalla Showgrounds.
“There is no shortage of people who love their football in Benalla Rural City,” said Mayor Cr Barbara Alexander. “This will be a great opportunity for many people to meet their sporting heroes. For the young people who love football, it will be quite an experience, and I imagine many of them will be inspired by being able to get advice and encouragement from sportspeople who are at the top of their field.”
WorkSafe AFL Victoria Development Manager Zac Guilfoyle says that the objective of the visit, part of the AFL’s Australia Post Community Camp initiative, is to make the AFL game and its players more accessible to the community.
“Forming a connection between regional areas, AFL Clubs and players is vital to the success of the game at all levels,” Mr Guilfoyle said. “The Benalla area has experience a decline in player participation in recent years, and we hope to kick start the 2014 season with this visit.”
Mr Guilfoyle says that AFL North East Border will work with the Essendon FC and Benalla Rural City Council to ensure “positive outcomes for the town of Benalla and for the game in general,” with the initiative assisting to promote NAB AFL Auskick, school and community club football.
“What better way to get football back on the map in Benalla than have an AFL club in our community, engaging our people and promoting our game with a host of stars like Watson, Fletcher, Goddard and Heppell strolling through the streets?” Mr Guilfoyle asked.
Tuesday 4 February:
12:00pm Civic Reception: Benalla Art Gallery.
2.15pm Community visits: FCJ College; Benalla P-12 College; St Joseph’s PS; Australia Post Bridge Street.
5.30pm Local Club Training: Benalla All Blacks, Friendlies Oval; Benalla Saints, Benalla Showgrounds; Goorambat and District, Arundel Street Oval.
7pm Official Function at Lakeside Community Centre.
Wednesday 5 February:
10am Training Session, Benalla Showgrounds.
12.45pm Superclinic, Benalla Showgrounds.
Tickets for the Official Function on 4 February are available from the Lakeside Community Centre, Benalla, or call0499 771 437 for phone bookings.