Collingwood’s Reclink Team was officially presented with their stripes for the 2021 season on Wednesday afternoon at the Holden Centre.
In front of staff, family and friends, the team’s 40 players were officially presented with their guernseys on stage before running out for their opening game of the season against the CoHealth Kangaroos.
Formally known as the ‘Collingwood Knights’, the team were also officially re-launched as the Collingwood Magpies Reclink Team on Wednesday and become the club’s eighth official side.
As one of 18 teams in the Victorian Reclink Australian Football League, Collingwood is the only AFL club to have an affiliated team participate in the league.
Having been a part of Reclink since its establishment in 2008, team member Dale Marsh reflected on the Pies’ 31-point win on Wednesday.
“It was a good hit-out but it was a bit slippery and windy out there. Full credit to North, they’re a tough side”, Marsh told collingwoodfc.com.au post-match.
The team train at Collingwood’s spiritual home at Victoria Park on a weekly basis and is coached by former Collingwood and North Melbourne player Daniel Wells alongside Shane Williams.
“They stuck to the task at hand today and got a strong result despite the strong wind so that was nice,” Williams said.
Reclink Australia has provided support to over 200 participants in sport and recreational programs to disadvantaged people to create socially inclusive opportunities for all members of the community.
“It’s a youth-centric program, however everyone is welcome," Williams said.
"The program extends to those experiencing any hardship like homelessness, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, and those looking for connection back into employment and education.
“Reclink offers that connection point and footy is a great vehicle for that in giving them an opportunity to believe and empower themselves.”
Marsh said Reclink has offered him with immense support and provided him with many opportunities over his 11 years in which he has been involved.
“It’s opened up so many doorways in terms of employment and just getting out of the house. I’m making a lot of friends and loving my footy here and it’s just a pleasure to be part of Collingwood.”
Police officer Chris McGeachan has played an instrumental part in the program since its inception and was initially interested in helping bring people together within the community.
“The Collingwood Football Club have been a big part of our program for a long time. They’ve seen the value in our crew and have embraced that. We’re now one of eight programs - not many get that opportunity.
“It’s more than just footy - Footy is the vehicle to bring people from different backgrounds together but we unpack from there. When you build the trust and relationship, that’s where the good stuff happens.”