A long list of former AFL stars are set to grace Mars Stadium at this weekend’s NAIDOC football and netball carnival.
Chris Johnson (Fitzroy/Brisbane Lions), Leon Davis (Collingwood), Aaron Davey (Melbourne), Nathan Lovett-Murray (Essendon), Matthew Stokes (Geelong/Essendon), Brett Goodes (Western Bulldogs) and Yestin Eades (Essendon) will all take part in the Koori carnival. While current Geelong-listed player and former North Ballarat Rebel Jamaine Jones is expected to coach one of the division two teams.
The seven players bring 1034 games of AFL experience and Ballarat Wanderers, who will play in division one, captain Aaron Clarke said it was exciting to line-up alongside such decorated players and it helped to draw people to the games.
“It gives everyone a bit more of a pump-up knowing that they’re going to be running around playing against blokes who have played in the AFL before,” Clarke said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to see where we’re at in terms of where their standard is as well. They haven’t played for a few years, but they made the AFL and had solid careers for a reason.
“It also attracts the crowd, the community come along and support it.”
Clarke said it was great to see those players giving back to community football and added the carnival also provided a unique opportunity to play with family members, something not always possible at club level.
“For those guys to give back to grassroots community football, that’s the type of thing that makes this carnival so special – we’ve got these types of blokes that care about the community football.
“It’s an opportunity for them to play football with their family that they might not have ever had a chance to do.”
Clarke will get a chance to play with his younger brother. The Wanderers are the newcomers to the top division after a successful division two campaign last year.