Hille for AFL game with special meaning - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hille for AFL game with special meaning

By John Salvado 10/08/2010 12:49:52 PM Comments (0)

Essendon ruckman David Hille is free to play in Friday night's big AFL clash against Collingwood - a game with more significance to him than any other participant.

Hille risked missing the match, which is a centrepiece of a Transport Accident Commission campaign recognising the 40th anniversary of mandatory seatbelt legislation in Victoria, after being reported for engaging in rough conduct against Carlton's Mitch Robinson.

But by taking the early guilty plea and the accompanying reprimand on Tuesday, Hille is able to play against the Magpies in a match where the traditional red strap on the Essendon guernsey will be replaced by a stylised seatbelt.

It's a subject close to Hille's heart.

As a 17-year-old in 1998, he was a passenger in a car accident that resulted in the death of three of his friends - none of whom were wearing seatbelts.

"When you are young, you imagine you are going to live forever," Hille said in a moving speech at the launch of the TAC campaign on Tuesday.

"But at the tender age of 17, I learnt that's not always the case.

"With eight young men loaded into one car I took a ride that lasted less than a minute.

"We were unlicensed, without seatbelts, travelling at speed.

"Moments later we found ourselves wrapped around a tree.

"Three lives ended that day, a local community changed forever.

"The smells of that day are etched on my soul the way only those who have been exposed to road trauma would understand.

"As an AFL footballer I am reluctant to use my position to shape anything, because I believe we receive too much attention in the community already.

"But there are moments when we need to be bigger than ourselves and in my life this is one of those moments.

"When I am old and have long left this fine club it won't much matter to me whether some small kid decides to follow my football heritage.

"But it will mean the world to me that they hear what I am about to say - in wearing a seatbelt you get to save a life.

"If telling my personal story spreads that message far and wide I will have achieved my goal and any momentary awkwardness here today will have been worth it."

At Hille's request, the families of the three young men killed in the accident were informed about his involvement in the seatbelt campaign.

Essendon CEO Ian Robson paid tribute to Hille.

"David is no passenger in this project," said Robson.

"He has driven it, he's passionate about it and the rest of us have been delighted to support him."

The Melbourne Victory will also wear a one-off playing strip featuring the seatbelt in Saturday night's home A-League clash against Perth Glory.

The campaign also involves Australian Rules matches at VFL and TAC Cup level this weekend.

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