"WE'RE all winners no matter what," was the cry from the huddle from one Bendigo Suns player during Wednesday night's final training session ahead of this Sunday's FIDA Central Victoria grand final.
It was the six words that perfectly encapsulated the thoughts of all players, coaches, team officials and supporters involved in the all-abilities football program.
As Bendigo Suns Red coach Mitch Greer, who will lead his team into premiership battle this week against Bendigo Suns White, was quick to add: "It's been a tough couple of years for FIDA football."
"Especially with COVID hitting a few years in a row, so it's been nice to get through a full year," he added.
"For the two Bendigo Suns teams to be playing each other in the granny, it's pretty massive.
"Everyone is excited. But watching the two teams train together (on Wednesday night) you wouldn't pick it that they will be playing each other on the weekend.
"And that's the beauty of it, they just love having fun, whether it be with each other or against each other."
Bendigo Suns White, coached by Greer's good mate Josh Martyn and Brodie Biggs, will go into the grand final as a heavy favourite after winning all six minor round matches, two each against grand final rival Suns Red, and Kyneton and Rupertswood, which will play each other in Sunday's consolation final.
There's been no shortage of friendly banter from the coaches.
"Josh Martyn has made it known to myself that he's the undefeated coach, so hopefully we can cause a big upset this weekend and come out as the underdogs and big winners," he said.
"They have had the wood on us by a couple of goals all year.
"I attempted a few (player) trades during the year but they wouldn't allow it, so we may have to look at that for the next year."
This year's grand final comes off the back of a frustrating end to the 2021 season in which the premiership decider was twice postponed before eventually being cancelled altogether.
It was a bitter blow for the players, especially for those who rely on FIDA football as their main social outlet.
But as they went through their paces at Harry Trott Oval at their final training session before Sunday, last season was all but a distant memory for the roughly 45 Suns players, who will take to the field on Sunday.
With such healthy numbers, Greer and Martyn have been ever-willing to provide player support to their counterparts at Kyneton and Rupertswood when needed during the season.
One of the undoubted stars of the competition and a potential match-winner on Sunday, Suns White's Whaylon Reardon summed the mood of all players by saying he was 'absolutely excited and loving being in a grand final'.
"It's two great teams Bendigo Suns White and Bendigo Suns Red, it's going to be exciting to see who wins," he said.
"Going in undefeated, there's a little bit of pressure on us, but we'll be right.
"There's a little bit of rivalry there, but not much. It's two Bendigo sides just going out there and doing what they love.
"Because of COVID there was no grand final last year, but nothing is going to stop us this year. Absolutely nothing."
Sunday's final will be played at Weeroona Oval in Bendigo at 1pm, with the consolation final at 11am.
READ MORE: FIDA Suns to grace hallowed Bendigo turf
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