WHEN it comes to supporting your favourite Demon, it doesn’t get much better than player sponsorship.
The club initiative, which is open to Melbourne members, supporters, families and businesses, allows for an unparalleled view into a player’s career.
Sponsors can enjoy exclusive events and experiences, build meaningful relationships with the playing group, and if lucky, even have the opportunity to get behind their namesake.
Just ask long-term player sponsor Jacqui Parry.
To feel more connected to the club, Parry first looked into the limited opportunity back in 2012, plucking a 208cm ruckman off the list.
She had never heard of him, but he didn’t have a sponsor yet, so she thought she’d throw her support around a youngster named Max Gawn.
It wasn’t until Melbourne introduced an AFL Women’s team and drafted a tall forward a few years later that another name caught her eye.
“I had been sponsoring Max for many years, but then along came the AFLW,” she told Melbourne Media.
“I’m a big supporter of equality in sport and I just thought, I need to put my money where my mouth is.
Since committing to the Demons’ No.19, Parry has closely followed her football journey, from keeping an eye on club news to revelling in her first-career goal.
And despite living interstate, she has made sure the support has been felt from afar.
“I live in Coffs Harbour, so I can’t just drop into training and scream from the sidelines, which I would do if I had the opportunity – I’d be embarrassing her every day,” Parry laughed.
“Probably from that perspective, I’m not the best player sponsor on the planet, but I can knit. I’ve knitted her some stuff. I made her a scarf and a beanie with her number and initials on it.
“Jackie is just a lovely girl and is so genuine. I really feel she’s very grateful to have a sponsor and that support.”
While developing such relationships is just one part of player sponsorship, for Parry, it’s more than enough.
“The perks or the benefits – they’re nice, I get lovely little things,” she said.
“But that’s not why you do it. To me, it is about that connection and I think that’s what builds a strong club.
“You get to know not just the player, but the coaches and the staff, and I think you become a whole lot more engaged.
“It does make you more connected and take more of an interest, so I really think more people should be doing it.”
Several sponsorship opportunities are available across Melbourne’s AFL and AFLW teams for the 2021 season.