Contributed by: Shane Hendrickson Friday, August 17 2012 @ 10:03 pm ACST
In the tradition of the annual ANZAC Day match, the Vietnam Swans have proposed that an annual AFL match be played on Vietnam Veterans’ Day to honour those who fought so bravely for their country. The proposal is for next year, as 2013 will mark forty years of Vietnamese-Australian diplomatic relations.
Vietnam Veterans’ Day is on the 18th of August, which falls on a Sunday in 2013. The planned proposal is to include a live cross for the minute’s silence from Long Tan, which is conducted at 3.30pm local time. This would then be telecast live on the SGC or MCG scoreboard at 6.30pm EAST.
The Swans have sent to the plans to several ministers and people in the AFL and AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick is said to be “interested” in the proposal.
Australian rules has a deep history in Vietnam, especially for Vietnam Veterans, where a competition comprising of at least seven teams was active and thriving during the Vietnam War. Since a long lull after the end of the war, Australian rules has made a resurgence, with players spread across five cities, and a strong presence in the Vietnamese community in Australia.
Many VFL/AFL greats have deep connections to the war. Graham Cornes, former North Melbourne, Glenelg and South Adelaide player, as well the inaugural Adelaide coach, was with the Seventh Battalion. Glenn James, who umpired the 1982 and 1984 VFL Grand Finals, and is believed to be the only Indigenous Australian to have ever umpired a VFL/AFL match, was drafted to the war in 1968. These are just two of many AFL personalities with connections to the war.
This is a major opportunity for the AFL to create another blockbuster. The end result would attract both domestic and international attention to the game and of course bring in a lot of money with a full stadium and sponsorship rights. It is a great proposal, but the final decision still rests with AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou.