A FIFTH mission to India done and dusted, plans are already afoot for a group of Bendigo volunteers to return to the sub-continent early next year.
It follows the success of the most recent delegation to visit India, led by Golden Square Football Netball Club chaplain Bruce Claridge.
The trip combined humanitarian and sporting initiatives, with the key focus on helping co-ordinate the AFL India 2019 National Championships.
Claridge said the delegation travelled to India in two groups and arrived in Kolkata in the week leading up to the championships.
“Greeted by the worst air pollution ever experienced by a Bendigo team in Kolkata, they set about making the usual visits to places of interest in this amazing Indian city before one group supported by two umpires from the Eastern Football League made sure everything ran as smoothly as possible for our Indian friends as they enthusiastically played out their championship games,” he said.
“Everyone on the AFL Championship group worked hard but none more than Golden Square trainer Shannyn Smith, who was in constant demand for all sorts of real and imagined injuries.
“Paul Byrne, who coordinated this group, is to be commended on the amazing job done by his team.
“The other group ran a netball workshop specifically for the rehabilitation assistance of girls who have been directly or indirectly affected by the prolific sex trafficking industry in India.
“Jo Bear, from Macorna, did a wonderful job in co-ordinating this day and despite the language barriers the Indian girls got a good grasp of this new game to them.
“The younger team members, Azhia Claridge, Connor Byrne and Joel Green were in constant demand for pictures with Indian teenagers as they all contributed to the success of the trip.”
The second team, led by Claridge, also worked with their Indian counterparts to improve the life journey of families from one of India’s slum areas as well as a village community a couple of hours out of Kolkata.
Everyone on the AFL Championship group worked hard but none more than Golden Square trainer Shannyn Smith, who was in constant demand for all sorts of real and imagined injuries.Bruce Claridge
A successful national championships was highlighted by a 52-point grand final win to Bengal Tigers over reigning premiers Jharkhand Crows.
The fortunes were reversed in the junior grand final, with the Crows claiming a fifth-straight premiership with a 29 point victory over the Tigers.
Claridge said it was hoped that another team - perhaps with different personnel – would again represent Bendigo in India in 2020.
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