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An AFL Match to celebrate 40 years on Vietnam Veterans’ Day 2013?

Posted by Vietnam Swans on June 18, 2012

Next year is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Could an AFL twilight match be held at the SCG that includes a live cross to the Long Tan Service on Vietnam Veterans’ Day?

Yesterday, the AFL’s website had a story titled, . The article says that Hawthorn is set to make a bid to play a twilight match in Tasmania on ANZAC Day in 2015. 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the landings on the beach at Gallipoli back in 1915.

Hawthorn President, Andrew Newbold, said other clubs deserve the chance to play on such a significant day on the calendar, not just traditional rivals Essendon and Collingwood.

While that may be right, could it be possible to create a bold, new event by playing a dedicated match on 18 August next year, Vietnam Veterans’ Day, in the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam?

Below is a list of reasons as to why the idea has some merit:

  • 2013 is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam. The Australian Government is looking for vehicles to promote this anniversary and talk up all the positives in the relationship.
  • The Vietnam Veterans are still hungry for recognition.
  • There is a very strong connection between Veterans and AFL Greats. Obvious examples include: Graham Cornes (inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame last week), Glenn James (VFL Grand Final umpire), Kenny Earney (Kevin Sheedy’s brother in law) and the fathers of Nathan Buckley, Glenn Archer (inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame last week), Lenny Hayes (also winner of ), and Chad & Kane Cornes (also winners of the Peter Badcoe Medal).
  • The Defense Forces need living heroes/veterans to help recruit new members to the armed forces to be deployed around the world today. Additionally, Vietnam Veteran, Peter Cosgrove is a former Head of the Defense Forces and Michael Jeffery is a former Governor General.
  • The AFL and its commercial partners are continually looking for blockbusters
  • The Long Tan Service on Vietnam Veterans’ Day in Vietnam is held at 3.30pm which is 6.30pm on the east coast of Australia. The game in Australia could then be scheduled to include a live telecast of the minute’s silence at Long Tan onto the SCG/MCG scoreboard prior to the match.
  • By building a match around Vietnam Veterans’ Day, it would give the AFL a point of leverage into other markets that are typically difficult to communicate with: eg rugby, soccer.
  • A thriving Aussie Rules competition was actually played in Vietnam between 1966 and 1971. The competition was referred to as the VFL (Vietnam Football League) and provides a very solid base to build an AFL commemorative match around.
  • Just as the Last Post is played several weeks into the season at the ANZAC Day Match, it could be played again several weeks prior to the end of the home and away season.
  • It further consolidates the AFL’s credentials in using Australia’s signature sport to promote occasions of national significance
  • This year, 18 August, Vietnam Veterans’ Day falls on a Saturday and could provide the opportunity to announce details of a commemorative match next year. Next year, 18 August would fall on a Sunday so it would be easy to arrange.
  • Subject to how the match is received, a decision could then be made as to whether there would be a permanent fixture on 18 August each year.
  • By linking the inaugural event to the 40th anniversary of the establishment of international relations between Australia and Vietnam, the AFL would then have a vehicle to talk about its own international initiatives.

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