AFL: The Whitsunday Bald Eagles football jerseys were worn with pride in Indonesia last weekend at the annual Bali Masters 9s competition.
The international competition was started to commemorate the footballers lost in the 2002 Bali bombings. It became an annual tradition with teams from all across Australia travelling to compete.
Each team is encouraged to sponsor a local charity for the “forgotten people” in the bombings – the Balinese people themselves.
The Whitsunday Bald Eagles have been a long-time participant and although team members wear the iconic blue uniform, the Whitsundays team accepts players from elsewhere who want to go and don’t have a team of their own.
While there, the Baldies also visited their chosen charity Ypac, a school for handicapped children, to hand over gift bags and the $1500 the local club fundraised this year.
It was this event four years ago which encouraged current WBE president Darren Lloyd to move to the region after he played for the Whitsundays in the 9s while living in Albany.
“I loved the blokes that much I moved over here the beginning of last year, now I go over every year and plan to continue to do so,” he said.
The Whitsunday Bald Eagles 35s were “Bowl” division winners by one goal over the Karratha Mudcrabs.
For the very first time women, including local resident Penny Semmler, also took to the field in an exhibition match.
The game was such a success that organisers are considering including a women’s carnival next year.
The two teams representing the Whitsundays included six local footballers and other players came from Geelong, Albany, Townsville and Cairns.
“It’s simply fantastic that we had guys from all over Australia want to don the Whitsunday colours,” Mr Lloyd said.
“We are just mates looking after mates and we welcome everyone we get.”