Clarence and Kingborough set to battle for Gadomski-Riewoldt Trophy

Clarence captain Luke Swinton and Kingborough defender Lachie Gadomski with the Gadomski-Riewoldt Trophy.

Saturday’s TSL clash between Clarence and Kingborough will hold extra significance for both clubs, with the two sides once again competing for the Gadomski-Riewoldt Trophy in the Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome Awareness Game.

First contested in 2019, the marquee fixture raises awareness and vital funds for the Alex Gadomski Fellowship, a Tasmanian research fellowship that is finding a cure for Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes (BMFS) in conjunction with Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision.

The fellowship is in the name of Alex Gadomski, the late son of former Kingborough President Paul Gadomski and brother of Tigers player Lachie. Alex passed away at 21 years of age after a five-year battle with aplastic anaemia, followed by myelodysplasia (MDS) – both as a result of bone marrow failure. It was Alex’s dream to complete his UTAS medical degree and research hard to find a cure for the disease that ultimately cut his life short.

One player from each team will be recognised with the Alex Gadomski Medal of Courage following the game.

The clash will also mark Lachie Gadomski’s 100th senior game, adding further to an already significant day for him and his family.

“It’s nice for our family to have this trophy in place to honour Alex, it’s not often you get an opportunity to do that,” he said ahead of the game.

“I know he’d be proud that I’m still playing footy, and I know he would be at every game he could get to if he was still alive, so from a personal aspect, the game’s just reinforcing that memory for me.”

It’s a cause that’s very personal to Lachie, but Tigers coach Trent Baumeler says the defender has always played a big role in educating and inspiring his teammates.

“It’s very close to our football club’s heart, so we always want to present well and play our brand of footy,” Baumeler said.

“The day and the cause is all about courage, so that’s always a theme for us coming into this game.”

The fixture is a special one for both clubs, with Clarence holding a long-standing connection with the Riewoldt family and Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision. Maddie Riewoldt was just 26 years old when she died of complications of a Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome, and she wanted to ensure nobody else went through what she did.

Roos coach Peter Ryan says the playing group has been learning more about BMFS and the meaning behind the Gadomski-Riewoldt trophy in the lead-in to this year’s game.

“This year we delved into it a little bit more, probably a little bit because of Jack [Riewoldt] coming back to the footy club,” Ryan said.

“For us it’s about honouring both the Gadomski family and the Riewoldt family, and by doing that, it was about us going out and finding out a little bit more about the cause.”

The Alex Gadomski Fellowship funds researching for better cures while also helping to support clinical care at the Royal Hobart Hospital, funding a dedicated nurse available five days a week to help patients and their families trying to navigate the difficult journey ahead of them after diagnosis of a BMFS.

“This game plays an important role in not only raising awareness of BMFS, but also contributing much-needed funds, of which 100% of monies raised stays in Tasmania to support the AGF research team funded through Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision at the Menzies Centre for Medical Research in Hobart,” former Kingborough president Paul Gadomski said.

“Alex and Maddie’s journeys were unfortunately very similar, with both enduring five years of treatment after treatment, many months of hospitalisation, suffering debilitating complications and ultimately losing their battles. Both showed immense courage during their illnesses, never complaining and never giving up hope.

“BMFS affects young people predominately under the age of 25, and sadly 50% of patients lose their battle. This statistic is unacceptable, and together raising awareness and funds we can help make a difference.”

In addition, the TSL is encouraging players, officials, volunteers and fans to support the Red Cross with the introduction of the “Blood Cup”, presented to the club that registers the most blood donations with Red Cross throughout the 2024 season.

Clubs can register their team at the Red Cross Lifeblood website, with individuals then able to join and add their donations to their club. The club with the most donations at the end of the season will be awarded the trophy, provided by AFL Tasmania.