• AFL commentator and teacher Shelley Ware has co-authored an open letter calling for stronger punishments for online racists. (NITV)Source: NITV
The proud AFL supporter and South-Australian has started a Go Fund Me campaign this week to help raise much needed money for the Koonibba Football Club in Ceduna.
Karina Marlow

18 Aug 2016 - 5:42 PM  UPDATED 18 Aug 2016 - 5:47 PM

The Koonibba Football Club is the oldest surviving Aboriginal Football club in Australia and desperately needs to upgrade their oval’s irrigation system and lighting to keep the players on the field where they belong.

The club are hoping to replace their old sprinkler system, which often saw players and board members get up at midnight to move the sprinklers just so the grass could stay green for six months of the year. The field also has no oval lighting, leaving many players with only 30 minutes training time after work before the field gets dark.

In her blog post Shelley spoke about living in Ceduna as a child and she still has a strong connection to the community with the majority of her Aboriginal family living there. Her father, Bob Ware, played and coached at the club for many years and her cousin, Wayne Miller, is currently the Chairperson of the Far West Aboriginal Sporting Complex that includes the oval, as well as a netball, basketball and tennis club as well as the community gym.

The club are also hoping that the money saved on the annual $30,000 water bill might go towards running an after-hours diversionary program to stop violence in the community. The small town of 2,200 people ranks third across South Australia for the number of adult Indigenous prisoners.

Wayne Miller said “We believe that sports create harmony in our community and if we can provide more sporting opportunities we can reduce the number of these incidents.”

The club has been home to many past and present AFL players including Adelaide Crows’ stars Eddie Betts and Graham Johncock, 1993 Brownlow medallist Gavin Wanganeen and former St Kilda player Terry Milera.

The portraits of many former players were recently on show at the Melbourne based ‘Basil Sellers Art Prize’ exhibition created by photographer Grant Hobson.

The club need approximately $150,000 to install a new sub-soil irrigation system and around $50,000 for the lights.

The South Australia Government however has come on board with the project promising to match dollar-for-dollar the funds raised by the community.

If you would like to donate towards the $100,000 goal, check out the Go Fund Me page here.

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