Saturday, 22 April 2017

ANZAC and the AFL

ANZAC day is a special day on the Australian and New Zealand calendar.

Some 20 years ago, Kevin Sheedy, then coach of AFL powerhouse club Essendon collaborated with Collingwood to play each other every ANZAC day. He garnered the support of the RSL and set up what has become a wonderful commemorative event.

Both clubs committed to playing each ANZAC day irrespective of the day of the week and how many days they had since their last game and before their next.

The game day pre-match ANZAC ceremony is moving and has contributed to many young people learning the story of ANZAC and growing to respect the deeds of the past.

The success of the ANZAC day game has been the source of jealously by other clubs. The enthusiasm for other clubs to get a share of the action has in my opinion resulted in the AFL disrespecting the history of ANZAC.

This round of AFL commenced on Thursday 21 April with a game in Adelaide between Port Adelaide and Carlton. There was a pre-game ANZAC ceremony including a minute of silence and the playing by a single bugle of the Last Post.

ANZAC is a full 4 days away. I have mixed emotions as to the appropriateness of conducting such a ceremony of ANZAC remembrance on a day other than 25 April and similar ceremonies will precede all games played in this round of AFL games.

Is it dis-respectful or in a strange way “commercialising” ANZAC?

Alternatively, is conducting the event across all AFL rounds extending the education of the ANZAC story across all ages and the diversity of cultures that come together in support and appreciation of our indigenous football code?

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