Never forget Australia
Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 04:14 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Olivier Tresca
For many French people, the role Australia played in the first World War may seem pretty small, but there is one village in the north of France that will never forget what the Aussies did for them.
During the first and second battle of the Somme a large number of Australians and New Zealanders died to free the small village of Villers-Bretonneux. The village was almost destroyed during the conflict, and the Australian government helped to rebuild it. Since then the village is closely bonded to Australia, and a big sign in the school courtyard saying “Never forget Australia” is here to remind everyone of what the diggers did.
Every year Villers-Bretonneux host the second biggest ANZAC ceremony behind the one in Gallipoli, involving the Australian ambassador in France, and numbers of other French and Australian officials.
We all know how important is ANZAC day in the footy community, hence the officials of French footy along with Aussie Rules Europe (ARE) have decided to organise the first 18-a-side game in France since WWI (probably played in Villers-Bretonneux) as a part of the 2009 ANZAC Day ceremony.
The aim of this event is both to raise awareness about footy in France and to celebrate the sacrifice of those Australians who died fighting for someone else's home.
The local government and the Australian embassy in France has shown lots of interest in such an event, and the game will be part of the official ceremony held on the 25th and the 26th of April. The game will see a French side, made of French players and Aussies living in France, playing against a team made of Australian expatriates in Europe and some ADF soldiers. If you are an Australian currently living in Europe and want to play, contact the French officials or ARE.