Richmond’s Troy Chaplin has returned to his hometown Maryborough to deliver a series of key fire safety messages to local parents and children as summer heats up.
Chaplin ran football clinics for around 70 primary aged children from Maryborough Education Centre, before discussing the importance of being prepared for the threat of fire, as part of the AFL Players’ new partnership with FireReady.
Having played junior football for the Maryborough Rovers and with family still living in the region, Chaplin is no stranger to the threat of bushfires and remembers his parents often talking about the trauma of Ash Wednesday, which occurred not long before he was born.
“I still remember growing up hearing my parents talking about Ash Wednesday which was obviously a horrific experience so this message is one very close to my heart,” said Chaplin.
The area is home to about 9000 people, and as Chaplin explained football plays an integral part in the community having produced players of the calibre of Jed Adcock and Brett Deledio.
“It’s a very tight knit community and sport really brings the town together,” said Chaplin.
Chaplin joined CFA representatives to encourage parents to download the FireReady app as well as check the Fire Danger Ratings
“People need to ensure their families are prepared for the risk of fire this summer”, said Chaplin.
“Even though sometimes you don’t think it can happen to you, the safest thing is to leave early on high risk days.”
CFA representative Barrie Stewart said having a hometown hero and AFL star deliver the educational message certainly helps it sink in with the younger audience.
“The kids were just so excited to see him and they hung on his every word, so it certainly helps us get the message through”, Barrie said.
The recently formed partnership will see the AFL Players’ deliver three regional clinics, including Joel Selwood returning to his hometown of Bendigo as well as Jack Ziebel visiting Belgrave South over the coming weeks.
AFL Players’ CEO Matt Finnis said the partnership was one which players, particularly those who grew up in fire risk areas, felt very strongly about and was a good opportunity for players to use their influence to deliver a very important message.
“Many of our members come from country regions, where the risk of bushfire is very real, so particularly for those players this is an issue they are very passionate about”, said Finnis.
“We’ve selected players from these regions to visit these communities, and their enthusiasm and understanding helps them deliver the message and clearly from this first clinic we have seen the real power this can have on these young children and their parents.”
To learn more about fire safety visit cfa.vic.gov.au or click here to download the Fire Ready app.