Sydney goes digital for AAMI Community Camp

In what was a different looking AFL Community Camp this week, the Sydney Swans went virtual to connect with schools, junior clubs, volunteers and participants across the state.

In its 19th year, the AFL Community Camp provides an opportunity for football fans and participants across Australia to access the game and its players close to home. Last year, the AFL Community Camp saw the Sydney Swans visit areas devastated by bushfires to assist in the bushfire recovery effort.

This year however, the unique challenges of COVID have called for a unique solution, as players were unable to visit regional areas in person.

The solution was found in technology, with the entire Sydney Swans squad connecting virtually to fans across the state.

Players were beamed into school assemblies via Zoom, took part in electronic media interviews, and made calls to volunteers and participants throughout New South Wales. Coaching staff also got involved, delivering virtual coaching workshops.

Communities across Sydney, the Illawarra, Northern NSW, Hunter and Central Coast regions were involved.

Sydney co-captain Luke Parker said while players would have loved to be there in person, it was a great way to connect.

“It’s always great, the community camps at this time of year. Unfortunately this year we haven’t been able to get out to the schools as we usually would to be amongst the kids, but we have been in a few school assemblies talking to students,” Parker said.

“A few of us were able to speak to a couple from the South Coast who we helped out (during Community Camp) last year. They lost a fair bit of their home and property (in the bushfires), so it was great to see their spirits so high.

“You always want to be a role model and leader on the field, and you want kids to aspire to be like that. The opportunities that we get within the community, helping out where we can, is another way (of showing leadership) and that brings real joy to the team.”