Vic clubs receive relief fund assistance

The Mirboo North Football Netball Club was severely damaged in huge storms last month. Photo: Mirboo North Football Netball Club / Facebook

Three Victorian local football clubs in communities that have recently experienced devastation due to natural disasters have received AFL funding to assist in recovery from the recent storms.

The Mirboo North Tigers Football Netball Club, the Mount Pleasant Football Netball Club, and the North Bendigo Football Netball Club have all received $5,000 through the AFL Community Relief Fund, which is available to help get clubs and facilities back into operation as quickly as possible.

MNFNC President, Andrew McCarthy, was working on the cricket pitch in the middle of the Mirboo North Recreation Reserve when the storm hit, and he saw the full impact as it unfolded.

“The goal posts came down, the netting behind the goals was destroyed, some of the roof of our gymnasium was ripped off, and then because the recreation reserve was being used as a staging ground, hundreds of vehicles coming and going in the recovery efforts has caused a fair bit of damage around the ground,” McCarthy said.

“It’s been a long few weeks – we haven’t been able to have functions, we haven’t been able to have practice matches, it’s been a lot of work at a time when we really should have been preparing for the season.”

Instead, the club has been working to rebuild not only their own facilities, but the town as a whole. Their senior footballers and netballers took two training sessions off in the aftermath of the storm, instead helping to clear fallen trees around affected homes. In return, the entire town has rallied around the Tigers, assisting with their recovery as much as possible.

“We’ve had to ask a lot of our community when they should be at work earning wages and putting food on the table for their families. Everyone’s done it because that’s what small towns do, but we’re all exhausted and pretty traumatised from what we’ve been through,” McCarthy said.

"To be able to get this support from the AFL has been really helpful for us, because we’ve had to do everything else off our own bat and out of our own energy, which we haven’t had a lot of. Every little bit certainly helps.”

Speaking with the Latrobe Valley Express, former MNFNC President Joe Piper said that the club expected to have their home ground back up and running by the end of March, and that they would be ready to host their first home game on April 20.

“It’s just been fantastic for the AFL to donate $5000 to the club to ensure that it remains in good stead. It enables us to purchase some of the things that we would normally have in place by now through either practice games or membership,” Piper said.

AFL Victoria monitors the scale and extent of devastation suffered in the football community across the state for events like storms, floods and bushfires. Clubs are contacted and can reach out for assistance via regional offices.