The AFL will play a one-off State of Origin-style match at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on Friday, February 28, with proceeds going towards bushfire relief in Australia.
The AFL and AFLPA have made a combined $2.5 million donation to bushfire relief, with additional funds raised throughout the game also set to get passed on.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh and AFLPA President Patrick Dangerfield made a joint announcement at the venue today, where Victoria will take on the ‘All-Stars’, a composite team made up of players from every other state and territory in just over a month. The match will be broadcast on Channel Seven, Fox Footy and Kayo Sports.
Damien Hardwick will coach Victoria, while John Longmire will coach the All-Stars. The player selection process is yet to be confirmed.
“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,” said McLachlan.
“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.”
“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,” said Dangerfield.
“We’re committed to putting on a great event for fans and hopefully raise a significant amount of money.
“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.”
While State of Origin matches used to be a regular fixture in the AFL season between 1977 and 1999, waning interest and club dissatisfaction with losing players to injury saw the venture canned before the turn of the millenium.
Most recently, a one-off Hall of Fame tribute match was played in 2008 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the game. Victoria defeated the ‘Dream Team’ by 17 points in a highly entertaining affair at the MCG.