(Original article posted September 21, 2016 2:25 PM via hawthornfc.com.au, © 2016)
Hawthorn will again return to the Kokoda Track in 2016, 12 years on from the club’s inaugural trip in 2004.
The trek became an integral part of the Hawks’ induction of new players in the early 2000s but they have not sent a group to the track since 2011.
A group of first to fourth year players will embark on the nine-day trip to the home of one of the most significant battles in Australian war-time history.
Hawthorn has trekked the Kokoda Track on four occasions and has sent over 140 club representatives including coaches, players, board members, corporate partners and administrative staff on its expeditions.
Fresh out of the Geelong Falcons, Jordan Lewis and his fellow draftees, including Jarryd Roughead and Lance Franklin, were amongst the first group of players to complete the trek in 2004.
Walking the track in peacetime was challenging enough, but Lewis gained enormous respect for the World War II troops who tackled the task under constant threat of ambush.
“It was an amazing experience,” Lewis told hawthornfc.com.au.
“You couldn’t imagine what the diggers went through, but it must have been so tough.”
Lewis said the common bond shared by each Hawthorn player who has trekked Kokoda provides inspiration on the field.
“It’s a really important part of the culture of our club,” he said.
Hawthorn continues to embrace the values and qualities inscribed on the four black granite pillars at the Isurava Memorial in Papua New Guinea, which remember those Australian and Papua New Guineans who fought and died on the Kokoda Track.
The four pillars, Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice, are entrenched in the values of the club and are enshrined in the player’s gymnasium as a permanent reminder of the efforts made by Australian soldiers for our country.
Clarkson says the pillars and Kokoda are crucial to maintaining the club’s culture.
“Courage, endurance, mateship, sacrifice. Those four sum up how we should all live and play, and they have been taken from the soldiers who scribed them after the sacred four-day battle at Isurava,” he said.
“We have found the Kokoda experience to be a really powerful way of achieving the message.”
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs
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