The incredible bravery and spirit of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteers who risked their lives during the recent bushfire crisis will be honoured and recognised at a special Aussie barbecue in Yarra Park before the annual blockbuster Powercor Country Festival match between Essendon and Geelong on Saturday, May 9 at the MCG.

In a series of special initiatives at the Powercor Country Festival in partnership with Coles, the AFL community will come together at this year’s Country Game to pay tribute to regional volunteers from across the state. 

AFL Hall of Fame Legend Kevin Sheedy will host the CFA volunteers at the festival, while volunteers will be provided tickets to attend the game and take part in a lap of honour at half-time. Volunteers from around the state are set to proudly walk the boundary representing the impacted regions from the recent natural disaster. 

Coles Supermarkets, which became part of the Bombers family in a five-year partnership deal last week, joins the Powercor Country Festival as an official partner.

Coles proudly sources 100 per cent of its lamb, pork, chicken, beef, milk and eggs and 96 per cent of its fresh fruit and vegetables from Australian growers, continuing to support Australian businesses and farmers with its Australia First policy. 

The Powercor Country Festival aims to highlight the role regional and rural Victorians play in the fabric of Australian life, with a specific focus on recognising and thanking the amazing work of volunteers in regional communities.

Sheedy, the creator of the original Country Game concept, said it was important to thank and acknowledge the CFA volunteers as part of this year’s festival. 

“This is going to be a lot of fun,” Sheedy said. 

“Thanks to Coles, we’ll have a big Aussie barbecue outside the MCG in Yarra Park before a blockbuster game of footy. What better way to say thank-you to the people of regional Australia for everything they have done during the recent bushfires?

“This game is starting to really mean a lot to our country people. There are more than 8.6 million Australians who live in regional communities, and we can't forget about them. We need to make sure we take a moment to recognise and celebrate them.

“I would like to think there will be a standing ovation during the half-time lap of honour for these people who put their lives on the line to help other people. This is the true meaning of the Aussie spirit.” 

I would like to think there will be a standing ovation during the half-time lap of honour for these people who put their lives on the line to help other people. This is the true meaning of the Aussie spirit.

- Kevin Sheedy

Coles has so far collected and contributed more than $6 million for bushfire relief, including $3 million in gift cards to 6,000 rural fire brigades. 

Coles chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson said it was an honour to be supporting such an important event for regional communities. 

“Coles is immensely grateful to the brave volunteers and service people who fought so hard to protect our country from bushfires. We are absolutely delighted to be part of the Country Festival to pay tribute to regional volunteers from across the state. Serving regional communities and helping our customers live healthier and happier lives is such an important part of what we do at Coles.”

As part of the 2020 Powercor Country Festival, Essendon and Geelong will take part in a pre-season Marsh Series match in Colac on Monday, March 9, followed by the MCG blockbuster on Saturday, May 9. Purchase tickets to the blockbuster match here.

For more information on Coles, click here