Contributed by: Ben Leahy Friday, November 10 2006 @ 11:32 am ACDT
Recently a group of current and ex-AFL footballers were led around northern Vietnam on a CARE Challenge, visiting CARE projects and meeting local HIV/AIDS sufferers. The culmination of the trip also saw a footy match played between the CARE AFL All Stars and the Hanoi Swans.
As part of the CARE Challenge, the AFL players met and listened to the stories of Vietnamese women with HIV/AIDS before holding football clinics with some of the local children affected by HIV/AIDS. As these children are often shunned due to ill founded misconceptions about HIV, one of the main aims of the clinics was to help foster a positive message of inclusion with the local community. After this, the players were taken on a five-day cycle tour of northern Vietnam to visit CARE projects and local villagers.
Leg weary at the end of their cycle tour or not, the players still had a date with destiny at Dead Cat Stadium, the Hanoi Swans home ground. After running through some practice drills, the CARE staff and AFL players combined to take on the Hanoi Swans, eventually running out winners 4.2.26 to 2.6.18. The match was played in fantastic spirits and only hampered when the football was kicked over the fence and into the lap of a passing motorcyclist.
After the game, the Australian Embassy hosted a reception for the Hanoi Swans and CARE Challengers with talks from CARE's Vietnam Country Director, Carol Sherman, Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell, and several of the AFL boys: Craig Starcevich, Leigh Fisher and Clarke Keating.
The Herald Sun also reported on the trip after Clark Keating, Dylan McLaren and CARE and Hanoi Swans representatives visited celebrity AFL tipster with the Herald Sun, Chan the Fruiterer.
Current and Ex AFL Players on the trip were:
Dylan McLaren - Carlton ruckman (formerly Brisbane Lions)
Clark Keating - Triple Premiership Player, Brisbane Lions (2001/2/3)
Aaron Keating - Premiership Player, Adelaide
Craig Starcevich - Premiership Player, Collingwood (1990), ex Brisbane Lions, currently Fitness Trainer at St Kilda
Rob Dickson - Former Hawthorn player, winner of "Australian Survivor", film director of "Shane Crawford Exposed"
"Doc" - Brisbane Lions Medico
Edward McDonnell - St Kilda
Sam Gilbert - St Kilda
Phil Raymond - St Kilda
Leigh Fisher - St Kilda
Dylan Pfitzner - St Kilda
Mark McGough - St Kilda
Editor: It would be great if the Vietnamese Australians in Melbourne trying to put together their own club could build on this work, leveraging both the charity side and footy development, along with the Hanoi Swans.