By sports editor Russell Bennett
Star Essendon defender and former All-Australian Cale Hooker took the stars of tomorrow from the Noble Park juniors into a ‘Virtual Huddle’ recently as part of Toyota’s ‘Good For Footy’ program.
The program, facilitated locally by Patterson Cheney Toyota, has long been a regular fixture on the Noble Park calendar, but this year – due to the Covid-19 pandemic – the Bulls got involved from a distance.
“The Toyota Good for Footy program is an annual event in partnership with Noble Park Football club,” explained David Haines, the general manager of Patterson Cheney Toyota.
‘’It is an opportunity to give back to the local community by providing financial support to local football, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the kids to get up close with AFL stars.
“This year’s event was online via Good For Footy Virtual Huddles and we had the opportunity to bring the personal experience to the club members and we are now working on the Good For Footy raffle, which is a national Toyota initiative.”
Trish Marson, the junior vice president at Noble Park, explained just how valuable the Good For Footy program had been for the Bulls over the years.
“We’ve had a great relationship with Patterson Cheney for well over a decade now and they originally got us involved with the Good For Footy program,” she explained.
“Normally we run a big gala day with lots of rides and activities for the kids in the community, but this year – with the Covid situation we’re all dealing with – we did things slightly differently.
“The kids love the Good For Footy program, and look forward to it every year. They’re always asking who the player involved will be, and what sort of activities we’ve got planned.
“It’s a real celebration – a celebration of the season ahead, and it’s a beautiful way for us to give back to our volunteers and our members, and our kids.”
Trish said the Bulls wouldn’t be in the position to be able to offer that kind of experience without the support of Patterson Cheney.
“The beauty of this year being a virtual program – although we would have loved to have done what we normally do – is that it was a little bit more personalised,” she explained.
“We picked potential up-and-coming leaders of the club – kids who had shown different traits that show they’ll be leaders of the future – and it allowed them the opportunity to have a bit more of a personal, one-on-one contact.
“Although it wasn’t the big event we normally have, it was really nice and the kids loved it. The parents thought it was fantastic too, and they thought Cale was just brilliant with the kids. We’ve now created a school ambassador program – one of the boys who was in on the interview got up and spoke to every class in his school about his experiences playing football, and why he plays and why he enjoys it.”
Trish said the financial support the Good For Footy program provided the Bulls had allowed the club to pay the fees of its junior players this year.
“The financial support from the Good For Footy program has allowed us this year, with Covid-19 and the pressure it’s put on the community, to be able to offer every player in the club to be able to play for free,” she explained.
“The money we raised last year from the Good For Footy program, that’s supported every player in our club this year – 174 registered kids.
“We wanted to be able to give back to our members in this really trying time.
“If it wasn’t for the support and the financial assistance that Good For Footy gives us, we wouldn’t have had the ability to be able to do it.”