At the Vietnam Swans 2008 AFL Grand Final Party on 27 September in Saigon, the Swans National President delivered a short welcome speech. Below is an edited extract:
In the 1989 Geelong Vs Hawthorn Grand Final, Yates cannoned into Brereton; Gary Ablett Snr crunched Dippers’ rib cage – and a 17 year old Nathan Buckley was part of the half time entertainment.
Fast forward 19 years to today. Gary Ablett’s son, Junior, is now a superstar in the Geelong team. Nathan Buckley has already played his entire football career. A whole football generation has come and gone between the Hawthorn-Geelong Grand Finals of 1989 and 2008. “Ah, luxury”, say the Vietnam Swans!
Due to an extremely transient player list, we get to experience generational change seemingly every 12 months! That’s why forming a National Club was so important as it allows us to draw players and support from two cities.
And it’s working. Earlier in the month, we travelled to Singapore to play in our 2nd Asian Championships. In July, we were effectively able to play an impromptu match in Lao because, with players from both cities, we were able to scrape together a team for those wanting to make the trip. While there, Dan Kindness from the Embassy in Hanoi floated the idea of the Vietnam Swans playing a match in Saigon against a visiting Australian naval ship, the HMAS ANZAC. Last month, that idea became reality. Thanks to Hanoi, the match and event in Saigon happened and was a significant success. The crew from HMAS ANZAC described it as a “momentous occasion”.
The Vietnam Swans have successfully held Grand Final Parties in Hanoi for many years. This year, today, we will hold our first in Saigon.
It’s an important development for us. We need to be actively associated with the premier sporting event of the football code that we play around Asia. The Grand Final also provides the Vietnam Swans with an opportunity to increase the exposure of our sponsors. It provides us with a platform to raise funds which subsidises the costs of playing footy – whether that’s paying the $1,000 registration fee to play in the Asian Championships, buying medical insurance for the players or buying goal posts. When visiting teams come to Vietnam, we provide buses for the visiting teams, pay for the hire of the ground, pay for promotional materials and often, for the medical personnel to attend.
Playing in regional competitions and international friendlies whether at home or abroad is vital. They are key building blocks designed to strengthen and develop the Vietnam Swans into a vibrant and dynamic Club. As a Club, we are creating:
- Opportunities to play footy more regularly
- Fitness opportunities
- Socialising opportunities
If we’re doing these things properly, we’re effectively creating Bruce McAvaney-like “special memories” for those who are part of the unfolding story.
Rather than detracting from the story, the fact that we experience generational change every 12 months actually adds to it. We have ex Swans in far flung corners of the globe who continue to stay in contact with the Club. The Swans Blog is a key vehicle for communicating with current, former and future players and supporters. With 6,000 hits for the month of September, there is genuine interest in the Vietnam Swans.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for those of us in Hanoi and for those of us in Saigon, have a cracking Vietnam Swans 2008 AFL Grand Final Party!