Give a young girl or boy the opportunity to have a kick on the MCG and they will gravitate to it like bees to a honeypot. Add a few umpires who are after all, frustrated footballers, an ex AFL player as the umpire and 22 Down Syndrome kids and their siblings and you have a cocktail for mayhem. That’s exactly what transpired for 30 minutes prior to the Hawthorn v Collingwood game on Sunday, and you will never wipe the smiles off their faces.
Chris Donlon doesn’t sleep well at night and never takes no for an answer. “Pete, he said down the phone line a few months ago, how would we go getting up a grid game?” The AFL responded magnificently, providing, 55 entry tickets for the families. Tom McCoy and Tess McMannus from football operations weaved their magic, head trainer, Phil Watson made up the tub of Gatorade and Luke Ball donned the green uniform and whistle. SEN radio presenter, Francis Leach and Nike Category Sports Marketing Manager, George Lawlor were the goal umpires. The MCC staff were amazing and ushered us through to the rooms and then set up our two grid game ovals on the Southern wing. Hawthorn, players strolled over during their warm up to spend time with the kids, who just had the best 30 minutes imaginable.
What more can we say, have a look at these photos.