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Stronger than ever: How Murrumbeena JFC rose to the COVID-19 challenge


The recent COVID-19 lockdown across Victoria presented many challenges for grassroots sport, with members from multiple South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) clubs among those forced into isolation.

When a local case at St Patrick’s Primary School was detected, most of the school community was instructed to immediately get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

Many of the students from St Patrick’s are also members of the Murrumbeena Junior Football Club (JFC).

With multiple families across the ‘Beena’ community facing a two-week isolation period, the community rose to the challenge to support one another and has emerged stronger than ever, said Murrumbeena JFC President Danny Egan.

“Right from the start we knew we were all in this situation together,” Mr Egan said.

Mr Egan’s family was one of many forced into isolation.

“There was a sense of urgency and panic … it became quite surreal because the whole community found themselves at the testing site at once.”

The local hangout spot, Murrumbeena Park, is normally what helps the Beena community through lockdown.

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With the added pressure of isolation and the option of kicking the football down at the park off the table, Mr Egan said many families found it difficult but had their spirits lifted by the kindness of others.

“It didn’t come as a surprise to me that when half of the community is locked away, the other half of the community would step up and help.”

“The culture we have developed and the way we all look out for each other is exactly the way a local footy club should be ran.”

From coffees and food being dropped at peoples’ gates, Zoom disco nights and free online workouts with local gym Pulse8, the support came from all angles.

“One boy, Jackson, from our Under 11 age group now walks a bunch of dogs for families that can’t, but I know people are stepping up across the board,” Mr Egan said.

Mr Egan also praised the support the club had received from the SMJFL’s 24 other member clubs.

“Many Presidents across the league immediately reached out to me offering help,” Mr Egan said.

“Today alone I’ve had coffees dropped off by some parents from Oakleigh JFC and every day from some families from Caufield Bears JFC.”

Pulse8 provided free online fitness classes for all the Murrumbeena JFC families in isolation. Photo: Danny Egan

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“In the end we all have exactly the same intention. We want to see our kids run out on the field. So, the support network among the league is really strong and that’s really comforting,” he said.

Mr Egan gave thanks community members such as Nancy Robertson, a Murrumbeena JFC volunteer and parent who did not have to isolate, for “[rallying] the troops to support the families around her.”

Going from door to door in her 5 kilometre radius, Ms Robertston put effort into making each family’s isolation that bit more bearable.

Many Murrumbeena families found coffees, biscuits or magazines waiting at their doorsteps – and Ms Robertson said “every little bit counts”.

“That’s why little gifts of coffee, or biscuits, or magazines are so important,” said Ms Robertson.

“[These gifts] might seem like nothing, but I think it goes a long way when you’re stuck at home and helps you get through it. Just so they know we’re thinking of them.”

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Ms Robertson credited the families in isolation.

“They’re all in isolation to keep the rest of us in the community safe, so honestly we should be thanking them for doing the hard yards,” Ms Robertson said.

Another source of support came from Tackle Your Feelings Project Manager Nick Walsh, who organised a special video message from St Kilda Football Club Co-Captain Jack Steele.

In a video message to the Murrumbeena community, Mr Steele said he could relate to the feeling of being “locked in” due to the strict AFL protocols players must observe.

“As AFL players, we are proud and privileged to still be able to go out there and play footy each week and provide people like yourself who are locked in their house a shining light to watch and follow along the journey,” said Mr Steele.

“It’s important that we all stick together and get through this together. Stick in there, you’ll get through it.”

Mr Egan said that this lockdown experience will make the community stronger.

“This is absolutely going to make the whole group stronger. This was only just beginning for how will continue to look after our community.”


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