DESPITE facing their own issues after a storm ripped through their town, the Mirboo North Football-Netball Club has sacrificed their important preseason to help locals get back on their feet.

Now three weeks on from the devastating storm, MNFNC are on the right track to be ready for the 2024 Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League season.

In the wake of the storm, MNFNC banded together to help clean-up the Mirboo North Recreation Reserve, and also the rest of the community.

“Our poor, old ‘Rec’ Reserve has copped an absolute beating, so we were banded together … and we said ‘right, there’s 15 of us, lets get some chainsaws and handsaws or whatever we can, and we all went to the RSL instead of training’,” new MNFNC senior football coach Damien Turner said.

Instead of training on February 19 and 21, the footballers decided to give back to the community, ticking items off the to-do list at the RSL, which turned out to be a great team bonding experience off the field.

“It was good, it was just good to get the group together after all that. But the family we helped for the majority – they were so grateful … it was just good to give back,” Turner said.

Former MNFNC President, Joe Piper remains involved with the club in a specialist facilities and infrastructure role, and aims to put his energy into clean-up efforts.

“The Mirboo North Football-Netball Club is part of a community, and our community is hurting,” Piper said.

“Some of the things that have gone on in our town, and the way in which the community – and even our club – has volunteered has been outstanding. Notwithstanding, our club has suffered some damage because of the storm, predominantly its goal posts, netting behind the goals and our covers.”

MNFNC are working with the AFL, which donated $5000 towards the club’s clean-up.

“We’re working with the AFL on that matter, and we hope that we’ll have all those things sorted out by the end of this (last) week. And we are very confident that our home ground will be up and running by the end of March,” Piper said on the afternoon of February 28, extending his thanks to AFL Chief Executive, Andrew Dillon, as well as AFL Gippsland Club Development Lead, Tim Cotter.

“It’s just been fantastic for the AFL to donate $5000 to the club to ensure that it remains in good stead. It enables us to purchase some of the things that we would normally have in place by now through either practice games or membership,” Piper said.

MNFNC believe they will be ready to host their first home game of the MGFNL in Round 2, on April 20 against Foster.

On Wednesday, February 28, MNFNC footballers returned to the track for the first time since the storm, announcing Turner as their new senior coach.

“It’s been a challenging couple of weeks for our town, our club and the community, but I think the strength of these local communities really shines through during those darkest moments, and I’m sure any other town would respond the same way,” new MNFNC President, Andy McCarthy said.

It hasn’t just been the footballers doing all of the work, as the netballers have spent the last fortnight helping affected club members in the community.

They have been visiting locals that live alone, offering to have a chat and a cuppa, providing a comforting environment for those you may be shaken up.

The MNFNC netballers returned to training during the same week, on Tuesday, February 27, taking to the courts under the supervision of the command centre.