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Vietnam Swans write to Federal Ministers: 12 months from a dedicated AFL Match on Vietnam Veterans’ Day next year??

Posted by Vietnam Swans on August 18, 2012

Could an AFL twilight match, dedicated to the Vietnam Veterans, be played under lights next year?

On 18 June of this year, this website posted an article titled, An AFL Match to celebrate 40 years on Vietnam Veterans’ Day 2013? 

What makes next year so significant is that it marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Australia.

Today, 18 August, is Vietnam Veterans’ Day – exactly 12 months before the proposed match.

Below is an email promoting the idea that the Vietnam Swans’ President, Phil Johns, recently sent to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Dear Ministers and Parliamentary Secretary

As you will be aware, Vietnam Veterans’ Day is just a fortnight away.

As you will be aware, next year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam. Accordingly, I write with respect to a proposal to celebrate this milestone by encouraging the AFL to host a match next year, 2013, that is dedicated to the Vietnam Veterans on Vietnam Veterans’ Day, Sunday, 18 August.

I have raised the matter with the AFL’s Chairman, Mike Fitzpatrick and I have been informed that he thinks it is an “interesting proposal”.

The Proposal

Next year, the 18th August falls on a Sunday – and therefore, there will already be several AFL games being played on that day, including a twilight match.

In Vietnam, the Service at the Long Tan Cross will commence at 3.30pm – which is 6.30pm on Australia’s east coast. If the twilight AFL match was dedicated to the Vietnam Veterans, the minute’s silence during the prematch formalities could be timed to coincide with the minute’s silence at Long Tan. A live telecast of the minute’s silence at Long Tan beamed onto the scoreboard at the SCG/Gabba/MCG (and television) would be a powerful experience for all who were present.

It would recognise Veterans across the nation.

Importantly, being the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Australia, it provides a platform to discuss the modern, dynamic relationship that exists today between these two countries and peoples. Rather than focussing entirely on the tragedy of a war and its darkness, we can speak about the triumph of peace and its blue sky.

The staging of a dedicated AFL match would allow us to acknowledge and address the pain suffered by so many. It would also allow us to also celebrate the later life contributions of high profile Australian Veterans such as Michael Jeffery, Tim Fischer and Peter Cosgrove. It would allow us to celebrate the commercial, cultural and governmental links that exist today between these two countries (and in the process, encourage Veterans to return to the country that began moving on 40 years ago).

In terms of helping to spread the message across Australia, some of the AFL’s most celebrated figures have very close personal connections with the Vietnam War: Examples include Kenny Earney (brother in law of Kevin Sheedy), Glenn James (VFL umpire) and Graham Cornes (inductee of the AFL’s Hall of Fame). Then there are the AFL stars who are sons of Veterans. They include Nathan Buckley, Glenn Archer and Lenny Hayes and Chad & Kane Cornes.

I would presume that celebrating the Veterans would also be viewed by the Defense Department as a recruitment opportunity.

I appreciate that this is a big idea with numerous levels of complexity. But I see that there are big potential gains for the key parties, namely, the:

  • AFL and its commercial partners (get a blockbuster)
  • Veterans (get recognition for their service to our country)
  • Australian Government (gets a vehicle to very effectively promote the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam)
  • Defense Department (promotes Vietnam heroes that assist their recruitment objectives)
  • Businesses and people with links between Vietnam and Australia

Whether or not it is a one off event in the 40th year, or the AFL begins a new tradition where a Vietnam Veterans’ match is played each year, will be for others to decide.

With so much to potentially gain from staging a dedicated match next year, the Vietnam Swans have at least done what we can by raising the idea with decision makers and people of influence.

And what gives the “little ol’ Vietnam Swans” the confidence to raise such a big idea in the first place? Three years of our ANZAC Friendship Match in Vung Tau.

The scale of our match and weekend is obviously very different to the current proposal but, I believe, the outcomes are quite valid. If you would like to view a 27minute documentary of our ANZAC Friendship Weekend, please .

Items of related interest

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