Community celebrated with Tigers’ Inclusion round

Game day is set to look a little bit different at Hollymount Park this week, with the Northern Districts Tigers hosting a community-driven inclusion round.

The club has partnered with both the Disabled Surfers Association and the Homeless Hub as well as planning to wear special rainbow socks and hang pride banners and posters around the ground and club rooms in support of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The opponents on the day will be the Kiama Power in both the Women’s and Men’s Premier Division, and the Wollongong Bulldogs in Men’s Reserve Grade, both of whom have been thanked by the Tigers for their support of the day.

Club president, Leigh Forsyth, said that the inspiration for the round stemmed from the long relationships with the two local organisations involved, as well the club’s support for the AFL’s Pride Round initiative.

The Disabled Surfers Association is a fantastic local initiative that helps people living with a disability try surfing safely with the help of volunteer instructors. The Disabled Surfers Association have a long-standing relationship with the Tigers dating back over 25 years.

The association’s President Ian Picton reflected on past fundraising efforts by the club, stating that “about 10 years ago they had a jumper raffle which bought us a wheelchair which we actually still use to this day.”

“I think they also gave us $10 000 dollars in the end, for a club like that to raise that money and not use for themselves, but give back to the community, for us was fantastic”.

Ian also spoke on being a long-time supporter of the club noting “we always say what goes around comes around, they help us. I live close to the ground so I’ll go down and help officiate where I can” and “what’s needed we’ll help out.”

The Disabled Surfers Association’s involvement in the day will involve participants tossing the coin before both men’s and women’s Premier Division games. Additionally, a trophy will be awarded to the best performing player in each game by one of the association’s participants.

In terms of fundraising for this year’s event, the Tigers will be hosting a pool competition where all profits from entry fees will go to the Disabled Surfers Association, as well as accepting monetary donations at the game.

The other local organisation participating in the day is the Wollongong Homeless Hub, who work to provide aid to the homeless population of Wollongong in a variety of ways. These range from food assistance and access to government services, to programs which assist clients to overcome the barriers and establish new tenancies.

The club will be accepting non-perishable food items, clothing, and toiletries on the day to donate to the Homeless Hub initiative, as well as monetary donations.

As well as this, the Homeless Hub have a mobile laundry that travels around locally so that the homeless can wash their clothes. CEO Mandy Booker has offered to have this laundry at Hollymount Park for the day.

Tigers’ president Leigh Forsyth added “we’re striving to be that family club that people can come and just enjoy the community that is a footy club.” Forsyth added “primarily it’s about helping these disadvantaged people for whatever reason out, or marginalised if you like with the pride community. It’s our way of staying accounted”.

He also encouraged “whoever’s out there listening or reading, get in the car and come up, it’ll be good footy to watch for a start, and we’ve got all these activities.”

“Even if you don’t want to watch the footy come down with a bag of groceries or clothes and chuck five bucks in the tin… it’ll be a great day”.

Casey White, AFL South Coast Community Football & Competition Manager acknowledged the club for their community support. “The Inclusion Round concept is a fantastic and creative initiative. AFL clubs are integral parts of the community, and we thank Northern Districts Tigers to bring the community together for this weekend’s matches.”

The websites for both the Homeless Hub and Disabled Surfers Association are listed below for anyone that would like to learn more or support their causes.