AFL Community Camps take over regional Victoria

16 FEB 2024
L-R: Essendon's Mason Redman poses with fans; St Kilda's Bradley Hill plays with a fan; North Melbourne players meet a newborn baby

It has been a busy few weeks across Victoria as AFL clubs have descended onto regional towns as part of the annual AFL Community Camps program. These camps provide an important opportunity for AFL clubs to help grow the game from a grassroots level and give back to the passionate regional communities that are the lifeblood of the national game.

From visiting junior clubs, schools and hospitals to taking part in clinics and attending community events, more than 700 AFL players will meet fans, recognise local heroes and inspire the next generation. Since the camps began in 2003, more than one million children have been reached during school and club visits across Australia.

Collingwood – Gippsland (17-20 December 2023)

The Pies kicked off their camp early in the summer, heading out to Gippsland before the Christmas break. Their visit included a training session at Gippsland Power Football Club and a visit to Morwell Park Primary School, where new draftee Tew Jiath used to work as a Teacher's Assistant. Whilst in Morwell, the 2023 Premiers met with 96-year-old Jack, who has supported the Magpies since he was 10 years old and even got a tattoo to commemorate the 2023 Premiership.

Essendon - Shepparton (5-6 February 2024)

The Bombers followed on from Collingwood with a visit to Shepparton in the first week of February, where they connected with local Elders on Yorta Yorta Country, attended an exciting AusKick Super Clinic at Shepparton East Football Club and held an open training session with hundreds of fans turning out to meet the team.

Richmond – Mildura (8-9 February 2024)

The Tigers went north to Mildura and paid a visit to the Mildura Base Public Hospital, showing their appreciation for the hardworking locals who keep the town safe and well. There was also player signing sessions at the local mall and the Mildura Sporting Precinct, giving hundreds of Shepparton locals the chance to meet their heroes.

Mildura has a rich and ongoing history with Richmond, having produced some of the Club’s best players, including Dale Weightman, Matthew Knights and Courtney Wakefield. Off the field, the Sunraysia region also holds great significance to the Club, with subsidiary business Aligned Leisure operating as a part of the community and the Korin Gamadji Institute engaging Indigenous youth in the area.

Melbourne - Seymour & Surrounds (12-13 February 2024)

The Demons AFL and AFLW teams paid a visit to Seymour and the surrounding areas, with an open training session and meet and greets to engage Seymour locals. New AFL recruit Koltyn Tholstrup was a fan favourite, challenging some local kids to a game of cricket, whilst Ben Brown hosted a football clinic with great popularity.

North Melbourne - South Bendigo & Wyndham (12-13 February 2024)

This week also saw the Kangaroos make the trip to South Bendigo and Wydnham, hosting football clinics and visiting local schools. The jumper signing sessions were a hit, along with a visit to Kangaroo Flat Football and Netball Club.

Carlton - North Bendigo (13-14 February 2024)

The people of Bendigo were spoilt for choice with the Blues joining the Roos in town. A visit to St Kilian's Primary School was a highlight, with hundreds of children lining up for a jumper signing, as well as a football skills clinic at La Trobe University Bendigo campus.

Geelong - Warrnambool & Surrounds (13-14 February 2024)

The Cats ventured down the Surf Coast to Warrnambool for their community camp, including their football Super Clinic and a Welcome to Country by local Warrnambool man Joey Chatfield.

St Kilda - Mornington Peninsula (14-15 February 2024)

To finish of a massive week of community engagement, the Saints took on the Mornington Peninsula to spread the footy love with their southern community, with a Welcome to Country from Bunurong Artist, Adam Magennis, before a football skills clinic at the Beleura Junior Football Club.

Still to come next week is the Bulldogs' visit to Ballarat and Ararat on February 21, and the Hawks will be heading down south in the first week of March to maintain their strong connection with the Tasmanian community.