The Sydney Swans will show their support for regional New South Wales when the team heads to Albury for a pre-season practice match against GWS on Friday, February 25 at Lavington Sports Ground.
Locals are also invited to head to Lavington Sports Ground on the afternoon of 4-4:45pm Thursday, February 24, to watch Sydney’s captain’s run training session ahead of the match.
Sydney’s senior coach John Longmire, a product of the Corowa-Rutherglen region, is behind the initiative. Longmire said the visit to regional NSW will help reignite the AFL spirit in communities hit hard by the pandemic.
“I was down there at the end of 2020 and there were a lot of businesses and people struggling with closures,” Longmire said. “Obviously being on the border they were impacted greatly by decisions to open and close the NSW-Victorian border at different times. It was a really tough period for everyone all over the country, but in particular for border residents who are impacted by the decisions of different states.”
Longmire took action with a phone call to Federal MP Sussan Ley, and it wasn’t long before plans were in motion to bring a pre-season match to Albury.
“The AFL has been fantastic in helping get this organised at short notice,” Longmire said. “They understood the importance of getting us back out there into the communities to reconnect with people at the local level, as well as gaining support for our game at the local level.
“We would love to have been able to do more community visits, but we’ve been limited by restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. It’s so important to get out there and say thank you for the support the game has received, particularly over the past couple of years, and to continue the local area’s love affair with Australian Rules Football.”
AlburyCity Mayor Kylie King said it’s a great opportunity to see AFL heroes in action at one of the best sporting venues in regional Australia.
“We’re thrilled to be hosting the Swans and Giants and are really looking forward to bringing people together after a tough few years through the pandemic,” Mayor King said.
“This is a great opportunity to kick off 2022 with a major sporting event that will not only delight fans, but also inject a much-needed boost into the local economy while also showcasing our stadium and city to audiences around the nation.”
Longmire also revealed he has a small surprise in store for some of the players while they’re in Albury.
“The guys don’t know it yet, but I’ve got a bit of work lined up for them to do. I’ve got a few thousand sheep to crutch and few kilometres of fencing to do to finish their pre-season off, which I’m sure they’re looking forward to. It’ll be good to get them down to the Murray for a swim too, get a few of the city boys to jump in the river and realise what the country life is all about. We’ve got several boys from the country who are really looking forward to it. After being in a bubble for so long it will be great to get out amongst the community.
“Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the Giants. A lot of their players are from the country as well, so it’ll be great to get them involved. It’s going to be a great weekend for AFL and the regional community.”
The match kicks off at 6pm on Friday, February 25 at Lavington Sports Ground. Gates open at 4pm.
Tickets go on sale via alburycity.nsw.gov.au from 9am Wednesday, February 9.
Entry is FREE for Sydney Swans members, with match access details communicated via email to members in Member News on Tuesday, February 9.
For those who can’t attend the match, all the action will be streamed live and exclusively on KAYO.