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Sunday, January 17 2021 @ 04:54 pm ACDT

AFL players donate jumpers for Digger's families

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The following is a media release from the AFLPA.

AFL Players are supporting the families of deceased and wounded Australian soldiers by donating 17 jumpers – signed by stars such as Gary Ablett Jr, Adam Goodes, Matthew Pavlich and Nick Riewoldt – to be raffled on Anzac Day in Afghanistan. Each team jumper has been signed by the club captain (except Brisbane Skipper Jonathan Brown, who was in hospital at the time) and contains a message of support for the Australian Mentoring Task Force 2 (MTF-2), based in Uruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan.

Each jumper is being raffled, with half the proceeds going to Legacy and half going to the MTF-2 Benevolent Fund, which directly supports the families of soldiers from the Task Force who have been killed or injured in the line of duty. Organisers hope the raffle will raise more than $20,000, with $10,000 already raised over the space of a few days. Team captains from all National Rugby League teams have also donated jumpers for the raffle.

AFL Players’ Association President Luke Power said that with MTF-2 losing two members this year – Corporal Richard Atkinson and Sapper Jamie Larcombe – it was important for the players to do what they can to provide some extra support for their families. “Our Australian troops in Afghanistan had a pretty rough start to the year and the families of those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice deserve whatever help we can give,” said Power.

“It’s not a big thing to sign a jumper and send it over but we’re told it has been a great morale-booster for all the AFL fans in MTF-2 and the money raised will be put to good use.” Power said that Anzac Day was a time to remember all those Australians who are currently serving around the world, away from their families. “We recognise that we only play a game and that our service men and women are the ones who show real bravery every day. This is their day and we’re just happy to be providing some support in this small way.”

Lieutenant Colonel Darren Huxley, Commanding Officer 2nd Mentoring Task Force, welcomed the initiative. “I would personally like to thank the NRL and AFL Players’ Association for their generosity and support to the soldiers,” said Lieutenant Colonel Huxley. "There are many similarities between sporting teams and the military. Each admire courage and initiative, and each know that individual performance is less important than a team effort.”

The Players’ jumper donation compliments the Telstra Message to the Troops campaign, which encourages AFL fans to send messages of support to defence personnel serving overseas. The campaign this year also involves Essendon and Collingwood players donating individually-signed team guernseys to troops in Afghanistan. AFL fans can support the Message to the Troops campaign by sending a message to 044 SUPPORT (0447 877 678) or by going to http://www.telstra.com/anzacday

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