A former Naracoorte footballer has been involved in a special commemorative exhibition Aussie rules match in Peronne, France on July 7 2018.
Brodie Borg, who is living and working in London, was part of the game played to honour the Australian soldiers who defeated the Germans to liberate the town 100 years ago.
Twenty-four players were selected to represent Australia and compete for the inaugural Robert Mactier Cup, also spending the weekend enjoying the best of one of France’s most beautiful and historic cities.
The 24 players were made up of Australians who have been playing in leagues across England and Europe, along with six French players who currently play in AFL leagues in France.
Brodie said he’d been playing AFL in London for the Wandsworth Demons in the London AFL competition, and got a huge thrill when his application to play the commemorative game was successful and he was chosen to play for the Liberators.
“I was extremely excited to be involved in the game when I was chosen,” he said. “Having my great uncle, and both of my great grandfathers fighting for Australia in various wars, made this day very special for me and one that I would be proud to represent Australia.”
Brodie said the whole experience was memorable.
“When we arrived in Peronne, it was just after France had won their quarter final game in the World Cup. The town was excited.
“We had a special jumper presentation in the town hall, where the Mayor of Péronne presented us with our playing jumpers. At all times, we had a translator with us so that we could understand what was being said.
“On the morning before we played, we ran a coaching clinic. This was particularly special as we could all start to get a feel for why we are actually here.
“When it came to the game, both sides were quite keen to try and showcase AFL, showing the people of Péronne our great game and the best parts of it. The 32 degree heat wasn’t going to slow us down, as the excitement for the game started to build.
“What started as a fairly ‘friendly’ match, soon turned into a match that both sides desperately wanted to win. Unfortunately, my side, the Liberators, went down by 5 points. It was a great experience and certainly one that I will never forget.
“We all received medals for playing the commemorative game.
“The next day we went to the Sir John Monash Centre in Villers Bretonneux, where we walked through Museum and engaged with the World War I interactive audio.
“This was really a great finish to the trip, really bringing home how special it was to be involved in the event.”