This past weekend’s Mortlock Shield showcased the best Eyre Peninsula football had to offer but people were also reminded about the work of one of country football’s greatest ambassadors, Don McSweeny.
Mr McSweeny served many roles in his 70-year involvement with the sport he loved.
This included president of Great Flinders Football League, SA Country state team selector and SANFL league director.
Mr McSweeny died in 2015 but his contributions will never be forgotten and now thanks to the SANFL and all the Eyre Peninsula football leagues a plaque at Centenary Oval will remind future generations of what made him a great football ambassador and a great man.
However Mr McSweeny did not do all this work alone, he had great support from his family and a great woman in his wife, Eileen McSweeny.
Daughter Deb Campbell (pictured) said her mother supported her father’s passion for football and assisted him any way she could, especially as he became much busier from the 1980s onwards.
Mrs McSweeny travelled with her husband across the state as he did his football duties and as Mrs Campbell revealed, her father would say that he would stay home if his wife decided not to go.
One amazing thing about Mrs McSweeny was the way she reached out to other women, helping them feel comfortable around the game and getting them involved too.
Unfortunately Mrs McSweeny died earlier this year but those who knew her will never forget her own contributions.
We should never forget what people like the McSweenys bring to communities like those on the Eyre Peninsula.
Mr McSweeny helped raise the profile of country football in South Australia and also reached out to those in remote Aboriginal communities to not just be good players but also good leaders.
Mrs McSweeny helped many women make their own contribution and today women continue to do their bit to help keep local leagues and clubs going.
Football has evolved to be a sport for all people, of all backgrounds, of all genders, as is the case with more women being involved in the AFL, including those who played in the inaugural Women’s AFL season this year.
Don and Eileen McSweeny are no longer with us, but their work will remain and we can only hope there will be many more like them in the future.