The AFL’s 2020 State of Origin clash won’t be the only bushfire fundraiser game on February 28, with Hawthorn and St Kilda to play a practice game in Gippsland on the same day.
Hawks president Jeff Kennett confirmed on Tuesday his club would host an emergency services-themed practice match against the Saints in Morwell on the last Friday of February.
It’ll be the second game between Hawthorn and St Kilda in eight days, with the two clubs to meet on Thursday February 20 at RSEA Park Moorabbin — the first game of the 2020 Marsh Community Series.
Watch every match of the 2020 NAB AFLW Season LIVE & On-Demand on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial and start streaming instantly.
In an open letter, Kennett said any Hawthorn members that’d been directly impacted by the recent fires were encouraged to reach out to the club.
He added the Hawks-Saints clash would be free of charge, but encouraged anyone that attends to make a donation at the ground to the Victorian bushfire appeal.
“The match will be an opportunity to thank local firefighters, emergency services workers and volunteers, while Beyond Blue and Headspace will be on the ground to provide mental health advice and techniques for those who have been impacted,” Kennett wrote.
“We encourage footy fans from around the country to make a day of it and support the Gippsland community by visiting cafes and retailers before heading to the match.”
All those who attend will then be able to stay and watch the Victoria v All-Stars, which will be played at Marvel Stadium, on the venue’s big screen.
Acting Hawks chief executive Graham Wright said the club was “deeply saddened” by the bushfire devastation, saying the club’s “players, coaches and staff all eager to assist in any way they can”.
All Hawks players, coaches and staff have committed to making a donation towards the Victorian bushfire appeal, while small groups of players and staff are set to visit affected areas fortnightly when it’s safe to do so.
“Given that these fires have had a disastrous impact in our Next Generation Academy zone of Gippsland, we’re aware that many Hawthorn academy families, members and supporters have been affected,” Wright said.
“Our thoughts go out to all of those going through hardship right now, and to the brave firefighters, emergency services and volunteers risking their lives to keep others safe.”
Kennett added that the Hawthorn-Collingwood match in Round 3 would be the second emergency services match during the home and away season.
“This was a great success last year and both clubs will build on that success this year. More details will follow in the weeks to come but please, pencil in the date. It will be a great game for a great cause,” Kennett wrote.