On Thursday 9 September the University of Canberra will sign a memorandum of understanding with the GWS AFL club.
The ACT4GWS campaign statement is:
After years of false starts and short term playing deals with cash strapped Melbourne based AFL teams, supporters of AFL in Canberra and the region have been offered a partnership that will benefit the game at all levels.
This partnership will enrich the AFL community of the ACT and Southern NSW region, grow participation numbers and assist AFL to compete more effectively with the other professional football codes (League, Union and Soccer).
The aim of ACT 4 GWS is to secure 5000 $50 pledges as well as significant local and regional corporate support.
- GWS will play up to 40 games in Canberra over the next 10 years
- AFL in Canberra and the region will have a seat on the GWS board
- GWS will continue to invest in local talent academies
- GWS will establish a training base in Canberra and the region
- GWS will conduct community camps in the region
- GWS will field a team in the AFL Canberra competition or in a second tier AFL competition that will feature Canberra clubs.
The opportunity for the AFL community of ACT and Southern NSW to join GWS has been described as the game’s best and last chance to establish a meaningful presence in the region.
This is our opportunity to become a significant part of our national game. It’s our time. Let’s secure our national game for our national capital region.
The University of Canberra in general and the National Institute of Sport Studies in particular see the memorandum of understanding as a way to grow community sport. GWS has a clear commitment to community development that resonates with the University’s plans to engage with the Capital Region.
Whilst preparing for the formal signing of the memorandum of understanding I came across Greg de Moore’s article in the Sydney Alumni Magazine (July 2010). Greg’s article The man who invented AFL provides an insight into the life of Tom Wills. Greg notes that:
The introduction of an AFL team into western Sydney is regarded by some as an invasion. But Tom Wills might disagree. In fact one could say that, when the new AFL team takes root in western Sydney and Israel Folau kicks his first goal, the game of Australian Rules football – our great and unique contribution to world sporting culture – will simply return to the family “home” of the man who started it all.
It was interesting to read that “Wills was born in 1835, near the township of Queanbeyan in NSW.” So the GWS/UC link has a double homecoming to celebrate.
Greg de Moore’s biography of Tom Wills (2008) provides a fascinating insight into the codification of football. Previously Eric Dunning had discussed in detail the development of football in nineteenth century England and provides a context for understand Tom Wills’ experience at Rugby School. J A Mangan’s study of Athleticism adds to the knowledge of the environment in which Tom Wills went to school.
As I attend the signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding I will be thinking about Tom Wills and the role that biography plays in developing sport. I think Kevin Sheedy, the foundation coach of the GWS team and Tom Wills would have had a lot to share and discuss about their lives in sport and their visions.
It is great to think that the National Institute of Sport Studies can be part of this journey in Ngunnawal Country.
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