Ace Aussie Athletes Are Good Sports In Times Of Crisis
The Little Master hashtagged it best: #SportTheFireCrisis.
AFL legend Gary Ablett Jnr took to his 167,000-follower audience on Instagram this week, urging athletes from all codes to jump on board his fundraiser for the Red Cross bushfire relief and donate an item for auction.
The Geelong champion kicked it off by putting up a Cats jumper signed by himself and his legendary father Gary Ablett Sr.
Hello football royalty collector item!
It’s the latest heartwarming act of fundraising by a sports star as our country burns. While feeling broken and helpless, we all want to give and do whatever we can for those impacted, and our athletes are showing the way.
Sport for the most part is a happy place -- it’s not life-or-death kind of stuff. Athletes can dedicate their lives and make a living from their passion and what they do best. As fans, sport brings us joy, an emotional roller coaster, a release, a chance to belong and enjoy the camaraderie supporting a team brings.
The Australian bushfires have given us a comforting reminder about sport’s big heart and the hearts of those who play it.
It was polarising tennis player Nick Kyrgios who was one of the first athletes to take the lead last week, suggesting an exhibition match, then pledging $200 for every ace he hits over the Australian summer of tennis.
Fellow players Alex de Minaur, Sam Stosur, Ash Barty, Priscilla Hon, John Millman, Storm Sanders and Ellen Perez all quickly joined the chorus.
Cricket great Shane Warne put everyone in a spin by bowling up his treasured Baggy Green (cap #350 for Australia) for auction. With two days left to make a bid, that precious piece of memorabilia is currently sitting at $316,000.
Modern-day cricketers are smashing their pledges over the fence with Brisbane Heat big batter Chris Lynn donating $250 to the Red Cross for every six he whacks during the remainder of the BBL season. Melbourne Stars gun Glenn Maxwell has matched his efforts, while bowling trio and animal lovers Peter Siddle (Adelaide Strikers), Adam Zampa (Melbourne Stars) and Kane Richardson (Melbourne Renegades) have an extra incentive with their Wickets for Wildlife initiative, with $200 per scalp going straight to WIRES and Wildlife Victoria.
Australia’s women’s basketballers, and their fans, have slam dunked more than $10,000 via the #IpledgeWNBL hashtag. At the weekend, two referees handed over their match payments, Sydney Uni Flames coach Katrina Hibbert donated $50 for every time out she called during Sunday’s clash with the Melbourne Boomers. Olympian and WNBA champion Abby Bishop pledged $100 for every triple scored during Townsville’s game against Adelaide Lightning, with both the Lightning plus fans digging deep and matching the effort.
Back in the footy world, Essendon captain Dyson Heppell is chopping off his trademark dreadlocks with his tally on the verge of $127,000, while Collingwood star Dayne Beams’ 2010 premiership medal is currently fetching $24,500 at auction.
As everyday Aussies and everyone from comedian Celeste Barber and her jaw-dropping efforts to the Minogue sisters use their social media platforms to influence for the greater good, our sports stars are setting the pace with their big hearts and global reach, highlighting that it doesn’t matter what shape ball you hit, kick or dunk -- we can all make a difference beyond the boundary.