Winchelsea coach Christian Shaw hopes a planned tribute match for late Blue Ed Smith against his junior club will become an annual event.
The club will travel to Yackandandah in northeast Victoria for a practice match on March 16, with a cup in Smith’s name on the line.
Smith, who spent two seasons with Winchelsea while attending Deakin University, died on December 22 at 21.
“It’s a tragic situation, but I’m the big believer you’ve got to find a silver lining in everything,” Shaw said.
“This is a good opportunity for us to form some relationships and friendships with people we would not necessarily have met in our lives.
“I really hope this is something that evolves into something bigger and better next year.
“As long as ‘Dogs’ (president Daniel Greskie) and myself are associated with Winchelsea, we’ll put every bit of our effort into making this game something bigger and better every year.”
Winchelsea will pay further tribute to Smith once the GDFNL season commences.
He was set to don the No.4 jumper in 2024, but Shaw said that won’t be allocated this year.
“We’ll leave that vacant, purely out of respect and in memory,” Shaw.
“I think we’re going to wear some warmup tops before our Round 1 game, and it will have the No.4 and Ed’s name on the back of those.”
Smith’s family will attend the Blues’ first home game in Round 2 against Bannockburn.
“Ed’s mum and dad and his brother will come down,” Shaw said. “We’ve spoken about that since pre-Christmas, and we’ll do something to honour that.
“It might be at the President’s Lunch at half-time there will be some words spoken, and before our game, there will be some words spoken and a minute’s silence.”
Shaw said Smith’s death has impacted his players on varying levels.
“It’s hard to get around and chat to 50-60 blokes individually, but I think some are doing it harder than others,” he said.
“I know most were affected in some way, shape or form.
“His Uni mates probably felt it the hardest. They lived there, they spent 24/7 with Ed.
“We just tried to wrap our arms around everybody collectively and say it was OK to talk about – you could feel how you wanted to feel.
“The guys were brilliant. You see strength in people in really tragic circumstances.”
If you or someone you know is battling personal issues, please get in touch with Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit beyondblue.org.au.