Country club challenge set to keep footballers and netballers connected during lockdown

By Aydin Payne

Footballers and netballers from country clubs across Victoria are set to put their skills to the test with a new social challenge launching today.

The Country Club Challenge is an online competition that will consist of all AFL country and Netball Victoria teams and will aim to keep players and supporters connected during lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Players, supporters and teams are encouraged to upload videos of themselves achieving several social interactions: skills sessions, fitness, community support, supporting your club and elite talent integration.

The competition begins today and runs until June 28, with weekly prizes and an overall winner awarded.

The major prize will be awarded to the club with the most posts using the #CountryClubChallenge hashtag, which will have an AFL footballer and elite netballer visit the club.

One uploaded post will act as a point awarded to the club, however, the same video cannot be uploaded twice.

AFL Victoria spokesperson Stephen O’Donohue said it was crucial for country clubs to remain connected and believed this competition would bring people together.

“It’s important for all of our teams and clubs to remain connected during this time, and this initiative will help build morale across the board,” O'Donohue said.

“Nothing like some healthy competition to bring everyone together and we appreciate WorkSafe’s support in doing this.”

Netball participation general manager Melanie Taylor highlighted the importance of sporting clubs to country communities.

“Country clubs are the lifeblood of their communities,” Taylor said.

“It’s great that we can stick together and have some fun.

“We’re glad to partner with AFL Victoria and WorkSafe Victoria on the challenge.”

Two leading sports stars who grew up in regional Victoria have also backed the social competition.

AFL footballer Ben Cunnington, who grew up in south west Victoria, and Super Netball League netballer with the Melbourne Vixens Caitlin Thwaites encouraged payers to join in on the fun.

“Community football and netball are the lifeblood of many towns across country Victoria and right now they are hurting,” Cunnington said.

“In these tough times, we want teams to show their passion, commitment and connectedness to their home club in the Country Club Challenge.”

Thwaites hoped all country clubs would get involved in the challenge and urged communities to stick together.

“Now more than ever do we need to stick together and get around each other,” she said.

“I’m taking part in the challenge because I miss my teammates like all netballers across Victoria.

“Hopefully I can encourage someone out there to take part.”