Australian Rules has been synonymous with the Upper Murray for more than a century and now it's hoped football can help the fire-ravaged region get back on its feet.
Fire came within metres of destroying Cudgewa's football clubrooms on New Year's Eve but the Blues' home ground will next month play host to a charity match between the Upper Murray Legends and the Celebrity All Stars to raise money for those affected by the disaster.
That will follow a gala sportsman's night at Wodonga racecourse on Friday, March 13, which will feature special guests from the Upper Murray, comedians, live music and guest appearances from AFL players.
Former Wodonga coach Ben Hollands said he felt compelled to help the Upper Murray and that football was the perfect tool to do it.
"We have all been distressed by the huge impact that the bushfires have had," he said.
"We know that those communities are resilient, and they will bounce back, however they need our support.
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"Sport is a huge part of the Upper Murray community's fabric and through sport, people will reconnect, find enjoyment and an emotional release from what will be an ongoing challenge as they recover."
"Everyone has forgotten the colours at present and is helping everyone out. It's big. Federal, Corryong, Tumbarumba and Walwa have all had similar losses. Everyone is affected and no one is going with colours presently. It's just all in," he said.
For more details, visit www.footyforfires.com.au
Where will the money go?
- Footy For Fires is determined to see all funds raised be distributed exclusively to members of the Upper Murray community. The purpose is to see all money raised remain local. It has partnered with the Upper Murray Innovation Foundation and the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal in a donation account for long term bushfire recovery in the Upper Murray. A grant process will allow residents to access the much-needed funds with a committee established to guarantee all proceeds are distributed locally and in the greatest areas of need.
- SPORTSMANS NIGHT: Friday, March 13. (5pm-10pm); Wodonga Racing Club; Cost: $150 per person. (Tables of 10) Inclusions: 3-course meal, beer, wine and soft drinks.
- LEGENDS FOOTY MATCH: Saturday, March 14. (12pm-5pm); Cudgewa Recreation Reserve; Cost: $15 per person. Kids $5, families $40