Pre-Season goes pink at Airlie Beach

By Clancy Hurst

The annual Mackay-Whitsunday Shield pre-season competition is to be held on Saturday March 23 at the Whitsunday Sports Park in Airlie Beach.

Under the leadership of Whitsunday Sea Eagles President, Dan Van Blarcom, this year’s competition will be the ‘Pink Pre-Season Carnival’ in order to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation to assist women with breast cancer.

The Sea Eagles will be wearing specially designed pink guernseys on the day which will be auctioned off along with other memorabilia and much more in the hope of raising $20,000 for the Foundation.

The competition first began in 1975 when North Mackay and Moranbah decided to have a friendly pre-season match.

In 1977 the Mackay Australian Football League decided that all teams would participate in the competition to allow them to have a hit out prior to the season proper.

In 2004 it became known as the Mackay-Whitsunday Shield thanks to (then) Secretary of the Whitsunday Sea Eagles, Peter Johns, this was also the first year teams from Townsville were invited.

Since then, Rockhampton has taken part in the carnival and for the first time this year teams from the Gladstone area will also participate.

Last year the competition was won by Mackay City Hawks who then went on to become premiers, making them the odds on favourites for this year.

This year’s winners will take home the shield and enjoy a $200 bar tab at Magnums Hotel in Airlie Beach to celebrate.

AFL Mackay Secretary, Josie Rogers, has been heavily involved with the Mackay football community for more than 40 years and believes that competition is the perfect way to kick off a new footy season.

“It’s much more than a few games of footy, it’s about bringing the local football community together to celebrate the start of a new season,” said Ms Rogers.

“There will be a netball competition to keep the ladies busy while the blokes play and the kids will be kept happy with face painting, rides and activities.”

“We are looking forward to a great day and keeping our fingers crossed that Cyclone Tim keeps his distance,” she said.

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