Special to the Messenger
Although it had been almost two years since the Ottawa Swans Australian Football Club played a match, the interest certainly has not died down in the transplant sport, based on what was on display recently at Manotick Polo Grounds, located at Highway 416 and the Bankfield/Brophy Road exit west of Manotick and east of Richmond.
Roughly 100 patrons attended to watch the men’s and women’s sides play against their counterparts from AFL Quebec in the ‘Pony Platter’ (the name given to the annual exhibition game dating back to when the Swans played in the infield of the Rideau Carleton Raceway).
The women’s side were triumphant, while the men’s side lost for the first time in 33 matches. However the scores were not really what matter on Saturday. What mattered was that for the first time for many there was a sense of normalcy returning. Rekindling friendships that had endured a hiatus, and paying tribute to those who were no longer with us.
Slotted in between the two matches was the debut of what will hopefully become a new tradition on Game Day. Partnering with AFL Canada, Coach Jacob Haeusler ran a free kids footy session for the little ones in attendance. Wanting to ensure the sport would continue to grow, the Swans began running the first junior football program in Eastern Canada this summer. The fall session began this week with 25 Auskickers registered (ages 5-12).
Among the other highlights from the day were the new faces who made their debut, the ‘sausage sizzle’ (Aussie lingo for a BBQ) provided by Aussie Tuckerbox and treats from FeeFee’s Goodies.
While the 2020 and 2021 seasons may have been cancelled, the Swans have continued to train (when regulations permit), and plan for their future under new coaches Michelle Huard and Greg Bridges. The Swans are chomping at the bit to return to competition in 2022, and invite anyone keen to attend!