SAFL players pretty in pink
By DARREN MONCRIEFF
JUST when we local dyed-in-the-wool Australian rules football followers finally thought we had convinced those around us that the home-grown code should be taken seriously, 44 grown men in sleeveless tops will today get hot and sweaty while fighting over a pink Sherrin football for 120 minutes.
But don't be alarmed because they'll be doing that for a good cause.
The Summerland Australian Football League (SAFL) has dedicated today's Lismore Swans-Byron Magpies Round 14 match at Mortimer Oval, Lismore, to the memory of four Goonellabah boys killed in a car crash last year, with the day's proceeds to go to the foundation set up in their memory, Southern Cross LADS Inc.
The idea for the charity game initially came from the Swans in January when club associates heard about the formation of the foundation. The idea to play the game against Byron has a symbolic touch to it: the Lismore boys died in the crash near Byron Bay.
"As soon as we heard the foundation started up, we got in touch with Rob Wells, and they have been just as keen for it to happen as we were," said the Swans' Josh Box. The chief aim of the foundation set up by the families of the four boys, Mitch Eveleigh, Paul Morris, Corey New and Bryce Wells is to raise money to buy land and build a driving school to teaching safe driving, with an emphasis directed at teenagers.
The idea to use a pink Sherrin genuine, full-sized footballs came when organisers saw how earlier charity sports matches for the foundation used the foundation's theme colurs: pink, black, yellow and blue the four boys' favourite colours.
"When we found out there were pink footballs, we wanted to get one because it would really stand out and add to the day," Box said.
The ball will be auctioned off to the highest bidder after the game, with the proceeds to go directly to the foundation.
A shield will also be presented to today's winning team. While the off-field focus will be directed at that worthy cause, there is also plenty at stake on the field.
The Magpies desperately need a win to at least send a message to the second-placed Swans that they, too, are a contender.
In the other game today, an improving Casino Lions side travels to Ballina to take on the defending premiers. Both games start at 2pm.
Activities at Mortimer Oval begin around 12 noon. The parents of the four boys and close friends will also be at the game.