A GROUP of Bendigo Football Netball League representatives will travel to the slums of Kolkata as part of a new initiative to get footy players to rethink their end of season trips.
Seven Bendigo people will embark on the eight day trip, connecting with new people and introducing Australian Rules Football to keen youngsters.
BFNL chief Paul Byrne, his 13-year-old son Connor, AFL central Victoria regional operations manager Justin Abrams, sports chaplain Bruce Claridge, his wife Jan and Bendigo duo Toni and Ben West will fly out to India on Wednesday.
Claridge said there was a lot of end of season footy trips that didn’t end well and that the trip to India would be an exciting opportunity for players wanting to change their habits.
“In the AFL they have enough money for individual clubs to send guys to Cambodia and build relationships with children in orphanages,” he said.
“Our goal is to do this as a league and further expand on that.
“We want to provide opportunities for players from Bendigo to go and experience leadership development and to secondly have their world view expanded.
“There is also a humanitarian aspect, we want to try and adopt this part of Kolkata as ours, with the hope that the Bendigo sporting and business community can help them out.”
As part of the project the team will provide children in the Kolkata region with educational materials and put on a medical camp with the help of doctors.
The team will also visit the Mother Teresa's house.
Claridge hoped the inaugural trip would be the beginning of a successful partnership between the two countries.
“We hope to build that connection,” he said.
“We as leaders need to come back (to Bendigo) and convey to the league about what we can do in the future.”
We want to provide opportunities for players to go and experience leadership development.- Bruce Claridge
Abrams agreed, saying it would be a great chance for BFNL players to experience a new country.
“From a league perspective we sent one person from our region to the Northern Territory a couple of years ago and they lived in an Indigenous community and they learned about leadership and ideally that is what we would like to do with this,” he said.
“We have a rookie of the year award and we could potentially send that rookie to AFL India, which would be a great opportunity.”
Abrams said clubs from within the league were supportive of this trip.
The team of people travelling to India will return to Bendigo on November 12.
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