The Tribute Match Day Banner
On 8 August 2009 in Hanoi, the Vietnam Swans played an Aussie Rules Tribute Match against the Lao Elephants that was dedicated to all who suffered from the recent bombs in Jakarta. One of the victims was Craig Senger the Austrade Commissioner based in Jakarta who was also a member of the Jakarta Bintangs Aussie Rules Club.
Prior to the Tribute Match, short speeches were delivered by the Australian Ambassador, the Deputy / Minister Counsellor from the Indonesian Embassy and former Vietnam Swans President and Official Club Legend of the Jakarta Bintangs, Dave Kainey. All players and spectators then observed a minute’s silence.
The match was a keenly fought contest with the Vietnam Swans winning by just 4 points.
Below is an edited extract of the speech delivered by the National President of the Vietnam Swans, Phil Johns, who spoke at the after match function.
On Saturday, 18 July, 2009, the Vietnam Swans from Hanoi and Saigon descended upon the Central Vietnam town of Hoi An. We had gathered for an internal “scratch match”. Joining us were three Australian tourists who just happened to be passing through Hoi An; Kylie who umpired for us, Sam who was on the crew of a luxury yacht that was berthed in Singapore and Peter who was teaching English in China. Many of us commented on how good a game of footy can be in bringing people together.
The following day I returned to Saigon, turned on the computer – and there was an email from former Swans President and Official Club Legend of the Jakarta Bintangs, Dave Kainey. He had forwarded an email from the President of the Jakarta Bintangs, Tim Hakfoort. The email said: two days earlier in Jakarta, two bombs, two hotels, too many lives, scores more injured. One of the lives taken was Craig Senger, a member of the Jakarta Bintangs.
The Bintangs are very special to the Vietnam Swans – they were our first international scalp! They also “gave” us Dave Kainey. Dave came to Hanoi in 2003 educating us all about a team called the Jakarta Bintangs that actually played Aussie Rules in Asia with several other clubs. You’re joking! And they play in an Asian Championships?
In 2007 the Vietnam Swans made our inaugural appearance at the Asian Championships. Included in our player list were five players from Lao. Three months later, those same five players had formed Lao’s first Aussie Rules team, the Lao Elephants (“slow, fat and almost extinct”, they quipped).
The Jakarta Bintangs also do a lot in their local community with an extensive junior development program.
These stories clearly demonstrate that footy in Asia is connecting and growing communities.
Meanwhile, back to today. As the dust from the Jakarta bombs began to settle, and the ripples spread further, we inevitably discovered a number of our own had been directly affected. They counted Craig as not just a Bintang, but also a colleague and friend.
While footy in Asia is connecting communities, the bombers’ objective is to polarize. And so we need to galvanise.
The decision to dedicate today’s match between the Vietnam Swans and Lao Elephants to the memory of Craig and all the other victims is a symbolic expression of Asian Footy’s commitment to galvanise.
During the week, I received an email from Australia that said, “Your footy match shows how the community over in Asia really pulls together and I don’t think we realise that over here.”
But this footy match did not happen by itself. We did not wake up to find that “Asia” had somehow “pulled together” while we were sleeping. It happened because each of us made a deliberate decision to pull together. To galvanise.
Be that as it may, up against these terrible bombings, a footy match still seems insignificant. But, Tim Hakfoort wrote earlier in the week that:
It is absolutely fantastic (what the Vietnam Swans and Lao Elephants are doing) and thanks for the great support you guys have given us. I will pass on the message to the Jakarta Bintangs and Craig’s wife, Kate, who I am sure will be grateful for remembering Craig in such a fitting way.
After the match, Dave Kainey passed the phone to me. It was Tim Hakfoort. I mentioned that the Swans and Elephants would like to jointly present two items to the Bintangs when we next meet which will be at the Asian Championships in Kuala Lumpur on 5 September 2009. The two items are a mini match day banner signed by all the players and a plaque that reads:
Vietnam Swans Vs Lao Elephants
An Aussie Rules Tribute Match to celebrate the lives of those who lost them on 17 July 2009 – including Craig Senger; Jakarta Bintang, colleague and friend.
Let them always be remembered.
Hanoi, 8 August 2009
Again, Tim thanked the Swans and Elephants. He mentioned that the Bintangs would probably give the banner and plaque to Kate.
Amazing. To think that two items from a footy match between two teams that Kate probably did not even know, over in Vietnam, could possibly have some value at this time… It is a reminder that when the scale of the loss is so great, it is the symbols and their timing that become so important.
To all those people who had anything to do with today’s match and raffle, thank you. In some small way, it has helped.
Asian Footy. It does connect and it does galvanize communities.
At a raffle organized by Austrade and the Vietnam Swans, AU$1,540 was raised which will be donated to the Craig Senger Indonesia Memorial Fund.
If you would like to make a donation to this fund, please contact from Austrade.
For further information: , vietnamswans.com ,