Country folk tackle a virus
TYPICAL country resilience, unbreakable bonds of family and friendship, and an unwavering spirit will be the Fassifern community's greatest defence against coronavirus.
The Lucky Country is witnessing the greatest period of social upheaval since World War 11. A line of continual intergenerational prosperity has been snapped by restrictions designed to flatten the rate of infection curve.
Those who have never wanted for anything are about to find out what it's like to go without as lives are turned upside down.
With residents confined to their homes, jobs are disappearing as the economy is thrown into chaos.
Once thought unthinkable, the cancellation of all sport has struck a demoralising blow in the minds of Aussie battlers scrambling to stay afloat across the nation.
No community is set to feel the loss of sport more than the rugby league mad area represented with great esteem by the Fassifern Bombers.
Steeped in history linking it to the region, the footy club with its long-established familial roots holds a special place in the hearts of locals who will have to find another source of community pride into which to channel their collective parochialism and passion.
"It is worrying," newly appointed head coach Michael Hayes said.
"A lot of people love their Sunday footy and they won't get to do it this year but I suppose that is not the biggest drama to come out of it."
Hayes recognises ramifications of the coronavirus threat differ slightly for rural citizens but he expects the community's strengths to come to the fore as members support each other through the most challenging period in recent memory.
"We are a little bit isolated compared to town," Hayes said.
"We just go about our business. It is a close-knit community out here, so if somebody does get affected everybody will know about it and get behind them."
There is a pervading feeling of caution among the Fassifern community. With large numbers of elderly supporters, the club shares those concerns.
The Bombers' season launch offered a chance to welcome players, introduce them to the rich traditions and allow them to bond with old boys.
Hayes said it was a shame many of the older fans were forced to steer clear of the launch because they were being careful but public health, slowing the spread of coronavirus and maintaining employment wherever possible were the highest priorities.
"Footy is a great thing for the community," Hayes said.
"It is great for the boys and has other benefits related to mental health but at the end of the day it is just a game.
"Everyone's livelihood is far more important."
Encouraged to step up to coach the club his grandfathers on either side Jack Hayes and Doug Cobbin had a hand in creating, 2018 A-Grade premiership winner and 2019 Reserve Grade captain/coach Hayes is filled with belief and driven by a desire to see the club survive and succeed.
While preserving his grandparents' legacy does not necessarily enter his thinking, he hopes they are both proud to see him at the helm seeking to advance the team they built
"I was approached to do it, so someone thinks I'm doing something right," he said.
"I've always been passionate. Anything I can do to help the club and keep it going, I'm always happy to do it. It's more about helping the club out than anything else."