Just three weeks ahead of last Saturday’s AFL grand final, Euroa’s James Ivill and Klay Giovannini did not know they were about to receive the trip of a lifetime.
‘‘About three weeks before the grand final, (Essendon’s coach) John Worsfold called me to let me know I’d won,’’ Mr Ivill said.
The Euroa Magpies reserves playing coach had been awarded the Foxtel and AFL Coaches Association’s #thankscoach Trip of a Lifetime package after being nominated by fellow player Klay Giovannini.
‘‘We had three nights accommodation in the city at the Pan Pacific,’’ Mr Ivill said.
The huge experience began on Thursday evening ahead of the final where the pair travelled to Fox Footy’s studios and spoke with Mark Harvey, Guy McKenna and John Worsfold.
‘‘We were on AFL 360; we had a little snippet at the end,’’ Mr Ivill said.
The pair spent grand final eve attending the huge lunch at Crown Casino, where they sat at a table in the front row.
‘‘Hamish McLachlan was MC... and we heard from heaps of different people,’’ Mr Ivill said.
Having only each attended a grand final when they were both children, the men sat in the bottom row tier at the MCG, soaking up the atmosphere of the 100021-strong crowd.
‘‘We were at the Tigers’ end where all their cheer squad was,’’ Mr Ivill said. ‘‘There was actually a lot of Adelaide supporters around us, too.’’
Having jumped on board as coach this year after a shoulder reconstruction, Mr Giovannini said he nominated Mr Ivill for the prize after an exceptional year in-charge of the side.
‘‘The reserves finished last, last year; they hardly won a game,’’ Mr Giovannini said.
‘‘James came in and they had a really good group and he took them to within one point of winning the whole thing, so he did a good job with those boys.’’
Mr Giovannini said it was also the mountain of work Mr Ivill put in their jointly-ran initiative My Future Academy that prompted him to nominate the Euroa reserves coach.
‘‘It’s a mental health and sporting initiative,’’ Mr Ivill said.
‘‘The idea is for kids that aren’t into the footy club or the kids that are on the outside, to give them an option for social inclusion, social fitness and a bit of fun.’’
After growing up in Euroa, the pair were aware of the children who missed out due to not being involved with football as well as the disconnect between under-18s players and moving into senior league football.
‘‘They sort of fall out ... it’s about keeping them local and keeping them involved,’’ Mr Ivill said.
‘‘Obviously sporting clubs are a good for social interaction with people, you create a good family environment,’’ Mr Giovannini added.
The duo will run their first event — Give Stigma the Boot — as part of the initiative on Friday, October 13.
‘‘This event aims to raise awareness and reduce the negative stigma surrounding mental health in rural areas including within the Strathbogie Shire Council,’’ Mr Ivill said.
Run in conjunction with the Euroa Primary School Fete at the school grounds, representatives from 14 local organisations will come together to play games of soccer with children.
‘‘We’ll also have Centre For You psychologist Kate Reid there to talk about mental health,’’ he said. ‘‘There’ll also be live music so make sure you head on down and check it out.’’
The duo said My Future Academy was also looking for support.
To check out My Future Academy’s Facebook page and get the event details of the Stigma Cup, visit www.facebook.com/MyFutureAcademy2017/ The event will be held on Friday, October 13, from 5pm to 7pm at the Euroa Primary School, Clifton St, Euroa.