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Yarrawonga football player critically injured in post-season fireworks explosion

A Yarrawonga Australian rules football player remains in a critical condition in hospital after a fireworks explosion at an end-of-season celebration in Victoria’s north.

Key points:

A Yarrawonga football player is suffering facial injuries from an explosion at a party on Tuesday night
It’s understood to have taken place during post-season football celebrations
It follows a separate post-season football incident in Finley where several members wore offensive costumes

Yarrawonga Football Club player Jess Koopman, 27, was flown to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne after suffering facial injuries from an explosion at the party on Tuesday night.

He was in a critical condition early Thursday morning.

Detective Acting Sergeant David Basham said police executed a search warrant at a Yarrawonga property on Wednesday morning and charged a 45-year-old man in relation to the explosion.

Police allege he supplied the fireworks and attempted to ignite them before they exploded.

“The two charges that he has been charged with are reckless conduct endangering serious injury, and possess[ing an] explosive substance,” Sergeant Basham said.

He said a 25-year-old Yarrawonga man had also been arrested over the incident and was assisting police with their enquiries.

Sergeant Basham said it was important that locals played it safe when it came to sporting celebrations.

“Be mindful and respectful that your actions do have consequences and enjoy that premiership win safely and respectfully,” he said.

Separate post-season incident in Finley

The firework explosion in Yarrawonga followed another recent post-season football celebration incident in the nearby town of Finely in the Murray River region of New South Wales.

During end-of-season celebrations on Saturday, a picture of two members of the Finley Football Netball Club wearing offensive costumes was posted online with one dressed as a suicide bomber and another as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The social post has since been removed by the club, which released a public statement about the matter on its Facebook page on Monday.

“The Finley Football Netball Club Board wishes to express our sincerest apologies to the community for the abhorrent costumes that members of Finley Football Netball Club wore,” it wrote.

A since-deleted social post of two members of Finley Football Netball Club wearing the offensive costumes.(Instagram)

The club acknowledged that the costumers were “offensive” and not consistent with its culture and values.

It also said that it was “extremely insensitive” to community standards and expectations of a sporting club.

“There is no place for vilification and disclamation at our club,” the statement read.

“The club will continue to educate its members on cultural awareness and standards of behaviour expected of its members.”

The statement noted that the club members would also undertake an AFL training program around discrimination and vilification.

Good and bad of club culture on show

The two incidents have highlighted the importance of community sporting safety and behaviour.

Paul Oliver is the head of sport engagement at Sport Integrity Australia and the co-chair of Play By the Rules — a group which provides support to coaches and players around matters such as discrimination, harassment, and inclusion.

He said club messages around codes of conduct and player behaviour were key.

“The difficult one these days, and the growing one, is around social media,” he said.

“A lot of clubs reiterating around social policies what is expected — tolerated conduct that people have to adhere to around those times of year [post season celebrations],” he said.

Dr Oliver said it was important to keep highlighting matters around online safety, behaviours and rights.

“It is just a matter of ongoing education around that to try and enhance behaviours in that area,” he said.

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Author: Russell White