Sport

Ex-AFL player bringing top-notch footy to far-flung communities

Ex-AFL player bringing top-notch footy to far-flung communities
Thousands of dollars of worth of football equipment will be delivered to remote communities in the Top End this month, as part of a program run by a former AFL player.
Shaun Edwards is literally driving the project - this weekend he'll be loading up his beloved Land Cruiser, Olive, and hitting the road to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.
"We've raised about $20,000 worth of charitable goods over the last two weeks," Mr Edwards told 9News.
Former AFL player Shaun Edwards is bringing football gear to remote Northern Territory communities. (9News)
"We've got over 200 footballs, we've got backpacks, guernseys, we've got $2000 worth of children's books, we've got some professional coaching boards … so basically everything that you need to run a football club we'll be taking out there."
The program to boost professionalism within football clubs and schools hatched after Mr Edwards was awarded a fellowship from his old boarding school.
"Growing up in Gunbalanya and in Darwin and having an AFL connection, I thought it would be good to get back, and give something to the community," he said.
"I want to build a bridge between my old school Melbourne Grammar and the Arnhem Land region."
Mr Edwards, who played for Greater Western Sydney, Essendon, and the Sydney Swans in his career, managed to raise the funds through donations and selling handmade t-shirts.
Jarred Ilett, Hugo Drogemuller, Shaun Edwards and Tylah Saunders with Shaun's car Olive, preparing to bring top-notch gear to Arnhem Land. (9News)
"I came up with a brand called House of Darwin," he said.
"I created some clothes inspired by the Territory and sold them to people around Australia."
A local sports store, Intensity NT, also chipped in with $1000 worth of gear.
Owner, Jarred Ilett, said he was more than happy to reach out.
"Shaun's involved with St Mary's and I've had a long history at St Mary's as well and it was a close link and yeah, I'm just happy to jump on board," he said.
"It's great to help that professionalism with the coaches' boards, and the whistles and the cones and the bibs as well, so whoever is out there can break up into two teams and take different drills and play scratch matches and all that."
New football boots will be donated to women's teams in Arnhem Land. (9News)
Mr Edwards will also be donating old boots and clothes to the communities, and says he's had plenty of support from his teammates at the GWS Giants, Essendon Bombers and Sydney Swans.
"I really want to encourage them to get up and explore the Territory," he said.
"Footy is such a powerful lever in uplifting the community, and I just really want to encourage people that you can use sport as a vehicle for social good."
Shaun and his St Mary's teammate, Tylah Saunders, will travel to Nhulunbuy on Monday, before working their way back through Maningrida and Gunbalanya.
"A big special thank you to Lululemon, Intensity NT, and all the people around Australia who've donated," Mr Edwards said.