AFL and AFLW footballers donated more than half a million dollars to charities across Australia in 2018, the most in the history of the AFL Players Care program.
Thirty-one charities shared $508,015, which is generated by players making a contribution from their match payment, with many nominating causes close to their hearts through personal experiences or family connections.
The official charity of AFL players, Ladder, received $217,800, which is 50 per cent of the match donations, with Movember and Rural Aid Australia receiving special donations of $60,000 and $27,000 respectively from the fund’s reserves.
AFLW players, who contribute a pro rata amount based on the male players’ donation, also contributed $6,050, with the Make-A-Wish Foundation the beneficiary in 2018.
AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh praised the generosity of all AFL and AFLW players, as well as their commitment to take ownership of the AFL Players Care program.
“AFL and AFLW players contribute to the community in a number of meaningful ways and the AFL Players Care program gives them the opportunity to have a positive influence on a charity or cause of their choice,” he said.
“That every AFL and AFLW player who steps onto the field in a home and away match makes a donation into this fund is something we’re really proud of.
“The support of Movember and Rural Aid this year gave the players great satisfaction because mental health is a really important issue for them and we’ve got many players who grew up on farms in the country and understand the devastating effects of drought.”
The decision to support Rural Aid came about when Mason Cox auctioned off the “Texas-Melbourne” custom football boots he wore in the Round 22 match against Port Adelaide, raising $1000 for the holistic support of Australian farmers.
The AFL Players’ Association Board matched the bid dollar-for-dollar for the charity and also contributed a further $25,000.
Cox, who was on-hand to present a cheque to Rural Aid’s General Manager, Wayne Thomson, at the annual AFLPA Directors and Delegates Conference in Torquay, said AFL players have an important role in raising awareness of many great causes around the country.
“One of the first things I noticed when coming over to play Australia Rules was how highly players are regarded by fans. That’s why I try to be proactive and give back as much as I can,” Cox said.
“I’ve seen a lot of media attention about Aussie farmers doing it tough so I wanted to do something about it.”
The AFL Players Care program established a partnership with not-for-profit streetwear brand HoMie, to produce branded long sleeve T-shirts for players to wear when completing cheque handovers.
HoMie, located in Brunswick, are Australia’s first ever retail clothing store to provide brand new clothing and retail training to the homeless community. As well as being Australian owned, HoMie‘s products are 100 per cent produced in Australia.
AFL Players Care is the players’ official charity initiative and was established in 2014 when the male playing group voted to increase their match fee charity contributions from $25 to $50 per player, per game.
While $25 per game, per player is still donated to the AFL Players’ official charity partner, Ladder, to help tackle youth homelessness, an additional $25 per game per player is now contributed to the AFL Players Care fund.
$180,000 of this fund is then equally distributed among all 18 male AFL clubs each season giving each team the opportunity to support one or two charities of they are passionate about.
In 2017, the inaugural AFLW playing group elected to become a part of the AFL Players Care program, donating $25 of their football salaries to the cause.