ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Rianne Coldebella
On ANZAC Day 2018, the 10th annual ANZAC Cup between the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit sides and their French national team counterparts will be played to mark the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. AFL Europe will be putting the spotlight on some of the players who will represent Australia each week in the lead-up to the game, highlighting their remarkable connections to the ANZAC’s and previewing an incredible event.
Riley Brettell – AFL Europe
The classroom at St Joseph’s Primary School in Elsternwick in 2018 is about as far a contrast to the battlefields of the Western Front in 1918 as you could possibly imagine, but thanks to teacher Rianne Coldebella, students will soon have a living and breathing reference point for their studies.
Rianne is set to join 33 fellow Australian’s in making the pilgrimage to the town of Villers-Bretonneux in the north of France this ANZAC Day to honour the fallen in a way she would never have deemed possible growing up; as a player in the 10th Annual ANZAC Cup.
As the great-granddaughter of Frederick Buckingham, who served his country as part of the 8th Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli and in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, Rianne brings strong WW1 ties to Villers-Bretonneux which she is looking forward to honouring.
“It is an enormous honour to represent Australia and commemorate Australia’s contribution at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux which is such a special part of Australia’s history, and It is also an honour to pay tribute to my great-grandfather and his service,” Rianne said.
“This opportunity is accepted with an enormous sense of gratitude and obligation given the significance of the game and the history it represents and commemorates… My family are very proud that I am representing my country and family internationally.”
Frederick Buckingham was only 22 years old when he left Melbourne in February 1915 to join the fight for King and Country, where the young man from the farm hills of South Gippsland would find himself in the desert serving amongst the pyramids in Cairo before heading to Gallipoli.
He returned to Australia in 1918 after contracting tuberculosis which would eventually claim his life.
One hundred years after his return from the battlefield, his great-granddaughter will head to one of Australia’s most famous theatres of war to not only pay her respects, but with the aim of using her experience to contextualise ANZAC history for her students, as well as inspiring the next generation of female footballers.
Despite coming from a passionate football family, Rianne admits she never considered that actually playing the game would be a possibility for her as a female growing up, something that only changed in 2017 whilst she was living in London.
“I have always had a passion for football… my mum refers to me as her third son because of my passion for sport and in particular football… but unfortunately for me growing up I didn’t think it was a possibility to participate,” Rianne said.
After years of watching from the sidelines, Rianne finally jumped into the deep end to play with the Wandsworth Demons, a decision which she said, “completely transformed my time in London.”
“The benefits extended beyond the football field… working toward and winning a grand final was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and being a female, something I would never have thought I could be achieving playing AFL”
Now, she hopes her experiences in Villers-Bretonneux can help widen her students thinking regarding females in sport.
“A note went home to my class’s parents noting that I will be on leave for two weeks and detailed why, and the support and encouragement from the parents who came up to me the following day and days after was incredible,” she said.
“Everyone was so happy and excited for me. It was truly amazing. Of these parents, one of them who has a daughter in my class said she is keen to play Auskick now. This was what I was hoping to inspire.”