Australian sporting organisations and stadiums are rallying to raise funds for the bushfire relief effort, with initiatives revealed by the AFL, Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia.
AFL State of Origin will return on February 28 at Marvel Stadium with Victoria to take on the All-Stars, with money raised to boost a Community Relief Fund set-up by the AFL to help rebuild football facilities ripped apart by the national crisis.
It is the first game of its kind since the 2008 Hall of Fame Tribute Match that saw Victoria beat the Dream Team by 17 points in front of 69,294 fans at the MCG. Prior to that, the AFL last staged a State of Origin game in 1999, when Victoria beat South Australia at the MCG.
The AFLW match between Collingwood and Melbourne, also scheduled for the 28th at Victoria Park, will now be played at Marvel Stadium as part of a double-header with the State of Origin game. The pre-season fixture between West Coast Eagles and Essendon has also been brought forward by one day so it doesn’t clash with the event.
The AFL has also committed $1.35 million towards the relief effort, with clubs providing $900,000 and the AFL Players Association pledging $250,000.
The match will be played during the second weekend of the Marsh Community Series and will see a maximum of three players per AFL club eligible to take part in the match to ensure minimal disruption to club's pre-season plans just 20 days before round one.
Adelaide Oval is to also contribute to the bushfire relief effort with players from rival AFL clubs Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide to meet in a Twenty20 cricket game on February 2, dubbed the Bushfire T20 Showdown.
Players from the two South Australian teams will be joined by some of cricket’s biggest names for the fixture, which will commence at 2:30pm. Proceeds from ticketing, catering, sponsorship and other donations will go to the SA Bushfire Appeal, which will raise vital funds for people directly affected by bushfires in Cudlee Creek and on Kangaroo Island.
Tennis Australia is also contributing to fundraising efforts for bushfire relief, staging the Australian Open Rally for Relief exhibition match at Rod Laver Arena on 15th January.
The event will see some of the world’s top tennis stars, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, throwing their support behind the cause.
It is just one of a number of fundraising activities to be rolled out across the summer as part of the Aces for Bushfire Relief program. Tennis Australia had already committed a $100 donation for every ace served at the ATP Cup in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, with players also pledging their own donations, while TA will also grant $1 million to assist communities repair and rebuild tennis facilities damaged or lost in the bushfires, and proceeds from the AO Live Stage concert with Jessica Mauboy on January 19 will be donated to the Red Cross appeal.
Cricket Australia has announced a range of initiatives, with a triple-header on Saturday February 8, headlined by a Bushfire Cricket Bash which will see cricket legends including Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist come out of retirement for a star-studded charity game to raise money for victims of Australia’s devastating bushfires.
The match was due to be played as a curtain-raiser to the BBL Final at the SCG, however has now been rescheduled to Sunday at Melbourne's Junction Oval due to wet weather in Sydney. It'll now be played following the T20 Women's International between Australia and England.
Football Australia is partnering with Rural Aid to rally the football community together to provide bushfire and drought assistance to farmers, firefighters, families and their communities affected during rounds 14 and 15 of the A-League and rounds 9 and 10 of the W-League.
An exhibition football game, Football for Fires, featuring some of the world’s highest profile past and present players, will be held at ANZ Stadium on May 23. Organised by the Tribal Sports Group, the match will be played on the same day as the FA Cup Final, ensuring international interest.
National Rugby League announced the opening week of the 2020 NRL competition will be a dedicated "Bushfire Appeal Round" to raise money for victims and honour emergency services personnel and volunteers.
Netball Australia has also announced a bushfire relief fundraising showcase match between the Australian Diamonds and a Suncorp Super Netball All Stars team at Qudos Bank Arena on March 1.
Bushfire Relief Events
Also at ANZ Stadium, is Fire Fight Australia - a concert for national bushfire relief on Sunday February 16. Queen and Adam Lambert are the headline act and they'll be joined by Alice Cooper, k.d lang, Amy Shark, Delta Goodrem, Olivia Newton-John, John Farnham, Lee Kernaghan, Tina Arena and many more.
HOW TO DONATE
As well as supporting the events listed above (click through for ticketing details), you can donate to the National Bushfire Disaster Appeal - 100% of all donations will be directed to communities in need. Also consider local fire brigades, the RSPCA and the Australian Red Cross.