Dallas Keogh-Frankling’s friends and teammates celebrated an emotional victory after deciding to take the field in his honor, just a week after the 17-year-old footballer’s death.
Dallas collapsed after Castlemaine’s Under-18s met Kyneton last Saturday and could not be saved.
His family confirmed this week that it was determined he had suffered a ruptured spleen, believed to have been caused by an awkward landing on a tackle. A coroner is still investigating whether there were other factors that contributed to the boy’s death.
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On Thursday, the Bendigo Football Netball League confirmed that numerous Castlemaine football and netball team games would be played this weekend.
But Castlemaine had the opportunity to monitor the health and well-being of its under-18 football and netball teams before the final say on whether they would take the field.
Dallas’ grieving grandmother said the avid sportsman would wish his club to take the field.
“I’m sure he would say, ‘Play because I want to play.'” He would,” Margaret said.
And so it was. At 10.45am on Saturday the ball rebounded at Castlemaine’s Camp Reverse home stadium and the under-18s were away.
Two hours later, the Dallas teammates — wearing black armbands — celebrated an 8.1 (49) to 6.8 (44) win over Golden Square.
“Our players have told us that the best thing for them right now is to return to football and netball this weekend in honor of Dallas,” Castlemaine wrote Friday night.
“After a week of maintaining our training routines and spending time together as a club, we will have two big days of sport on the pitch on Saturday and Sunday with the blessing of Dal’s family.”
Players, coaches and Golden Square officials had earlier formed a guard of honor for Castlemaine as they rushed onto the field, a celebration of their spirit of playing for their pal.
“Today our clubs stood as one in honor of Dallas, his family and Castlemaine,” wrote Golden Square.
The Castlemaine and Golden Square players stood arm in arm after the game, while a similar tribute was given to the seniors’ game.
Footballers, netballers, coaches, umpires and officials formed a giant circle on the field centered around a floral number 8 – the number of Dallas.
Castlemaine netball players wore red hair ribbons—a nod to Dallas’ favorite color—while both sports had various tributes engraved with Dallas’ name and the No. 8 on their arms.
Last week’s opponent Kyneton also made the decision to play after a traumatic week and their U18 side picked up an 8.11 (59) to 5.7 (37) win over Eaglehawk.
“It’s been a tough week for the club. I think everyone was really affected by what happened last week, none more so than our under-18s,” said Paul Chapman, Kyneton senior coach Bendigo Advertiser.
“Our club has done a really good job of communicating and supporting each other. The under 18s wanted to get out and play football today and they managed to get a good win this morning.
“I’m really proud of everyone at the club for how they’ve handled this and the support the club has given Castlemaine and vice versa. Castlemaine was great for us too.
“There was a lot of love and support within the two communities, and that’s what Footy does … it brings communities together.”