The Fitzroy Football Club prides itself on being a great community-based football club - these are not just words.
The AFL grand final week is always a big week in Melbourne. Whilst many celebrated and anticipated the presence of the Doggies in their first grand final in 55 years, the Fitzroy Football club was quietly sharing the passion and joy of football with our community organisations.
Women’s Squad co-coach Jo Hogan and four players held a Grand Final week Football Clinic for the Thomas Embling Hospital. Jo and Fitzroy-ACU player Frankie Freeman ran the clinic, with diligent support from Liam Niere (Under 19s) Caity Boyce, Sonia Bayley and Loz Field.
"Our club possesses many talented players both on and off the field and our players were a great representation of what our club stands for," Jo said.
Not only is Frankie a footballer and level 1 AFL Accredited Coach, she is also an advocate with the Victorian Mental Health Council, Sonia is a nurse within the prison system, Caity is a Paramedic and emergency nurse at Epworth Hospital, Loz is a nurse at Thomas Embling and Liam is a student at RMIT in International Studies. This was the perfect group to make a difference for a day for those at Thomas Embling, which is a community forensic mental health service in Clifton Hill.
"To help the patients feel like a part of the community and to see them really engaging and getting involved in the clinic was an absolute privilege for me, their positivity and enthusiasm was incredible," Liam said.
Donning their favourite team’s colours, the patients at the hospital were taken through skills and drills in the hospital’s gymnasium. Some participants had not touched a footy in many years, despite having played the game at one stage of their life. One older participant, a keen Carlton supporter, who has limited movement and is wheelchair bound, came to life engaging in the handball competition in true Lou Richards Handball style.
Through Frankie's leadership skills, he also managed to be involved in the longest kick. Frankie encouraged a fellow patient to kick on his behalf and a long accurate drop punt was delivered. With diverse abilities and encouragement from the Fitzroy Coaches, all patients found their own way of engaging and being involved in the clinic.
The patients participated in simulated quarter time huddles with some providing an encouraging address to their fellow participants. Before too long, participants were working together, assisting each other, and pulled together as one in the name of Aussie Rules.
Thank you and congratulations to all the players and coaches involved in the clinic with Thomas Embling. This is the second year the club has held the clinic and we hope it will continue into the future.