The AFLUA is proud to announce the relaunch of the Fiona McBurney Match Day Experience on Sunday 30th April 2023, at the Richmond v Gold Coast game at Marvel Stadium.

The Fiona McBurney Match Day Experience aims to connect sport and disability by providing a unique experience for individuals to undertake an official guest AFL trainer role for the AFL umpires on match day.

The Fiona McBurney MDE program commenced in 2007 and ran for two years before it was bought back to life in 2015. It was then named after the sister of retired AFL umpire Stephen McBurney. Fiona McBurney, who passed away in 2009, had Down syndrome and loved football, so naming the program after her was an ideal outcome for everyone involved.

AFLUA President Chris Donlon has been the driving force behind the program’s relaunch after it was discontinued due to Covid. In consultation with the AFL, the program has had some slight modifications:

  • Use of Marvel Stadium on Saturday/Sunday
  • Continue as guest trainer for the day, assisting umpires, including the coin toss
  • Attend a designated Tuesday training session at Marvel Stadium (2nd May) to meet the umpiring and trainer teams, collect their gear and accreditation
  • Continuation of the use of former VFL/AFL umpires in the role of match day chaperones to support the participant and family navigating Marvel Stadium
  • The participant’s name list in the Footy Record under the Umpires
  • Photo captured by AFL media 

During the 2019 AFL Round 19 match between the West Coast Eagles and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Optus Stadium (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos)

The games chosen to date are as follows (further games will be added once the fixture is finalised for Rounds 16-24):

  • Round 7 – Sunday, April 30, 2023, 3.20pm, Rich v GC, Marvel
  • Round 8 – Sunday, May 7, 2023, 4.40pm, NM v StK, Marvel
  • Round 9 – Saturday, May 13, 2023, 7.30pm, Carl v WB, Marvel
  • Round 10 – Saturday, May 20, 2023, 1.45pm, NM v Syd, Marvel
  • Round 11 – Saturday, May 27, 2023, 1.45pm, StK v Haw, Marvel
  • Round 12 – Sunday, June 4, 2023, 4.40pm, Ess v NM, Marvel
  • Round 14 – Sunday, June 18, 2023, 4.40pm, NM v WB, Marvel

Special thanks to the AFL, Down syndrome Victoria, our chaperones and Chris for their support with the program.


# Featured image – During the 2019 AFL Round 22 match between the Carlton Blues and the St Kilda Saints at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)


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