RSL ANZAC Sports Carnival begins

Excited: Joe Di Santo spoke about his vision for an RSL ANZAC Sports Carnival which became a reality. Photo: Glenn Power.
Excited: Joe Di Santo spoke about his vision for an RSL ANZAC Sports Carnival which became a reality. Photo: Glenn Power.

What started out as a conversation over a few beers between two serving brothers posted to Darwin from Murray Bridge on ANZAC Day, 2006 to becoming a reality in their home town in 2016, Joe Di Santo recalled the seeds of the ANZAC Sports Carnival and how he hoped it would grow.

“Charlie and I were enjoying a few beers and watching rugby league on TV, our beloved St. George were playing in the ANZAC clash,” he said.

“Before the game, we witnessed a moving ceremony featuring Australian Defence Force personnel. Afterwards, I said to Charlie something along the lines of all sports should acknowledge our military history not just ANZAC Day and he agreed.”

A current serving member and former exchange student, Joe learned that his former high school, Murray Bridge High School had teamed up with his RSL and created a scholarship to send two of its students to the Western Front on a 21-day study tour in 2018.

Shocked to discover Australian Military history was inadequately being taught in schools, Joe felt that as a community we are unintentionally and potentially depriving future generations of our history and culture.

Instead of being reactive, he wanted to be proactive and do something to educate the wider community on Australian Military history, as well as acknowledge local serving members and envisioned this as an ideal opportunity to give something back.

“Murray Bridge is a sporting town it plays an important role in everyday life, the ADF is the same,” Joe said.

“It too, has a rich history for example, cricket was once used as a tactic on the front lines of Gallipoli, and the national soccer team, the Socceroos in 1967 were sent to Vietnam by the Australian Government to play in the ironically named Friendship Games.”

“Combining the values of the region and the ADF it’s the perfect way that the RSL can honour history, local serving members, engage and educate the wider community.”

What was a pipe dream soon became a massive workload for Joe, any spare moment he had he dedicated to getting the carnival established while juggling family, military and work commitments.

Sleep became a luxury but Joe was determined to get the carnival off the ground.

It came with its challenges; selling the concept, winter sports were in their off season making communication difficult, it clashed with the Masters Games and the RSL also had numerous events happening at the same time.

Despite the challenges within four months, the RSL assembled 10 disciplines of sport to participate in the inaugural carnival, 11 perpetual shields were named after significant events, campaigns or battles involving Australian Service Personnel and six medallions were issued to honour local past and present RSL serving members strongly affiliated with the applicable sport. 

“I am proud of our achievements in the short time frame we had as expected we had teething problems,” he said.

“Within the next 10 years, I envision that we will have the carnival down pat and a blue print in place which I would hope that other RSLs will host their own sports carnivals, name their own shields and honour their members. Ultimately I’d love to see carnivals happening all over Australia.”

The inaugural carnival managed to raise more than $4,000 towards the student scholarships, this year the carnival will feature an additional two sports and three perpetual shields and they are aiming to raise $20,000 in 2017 for the student scholarships.

Between Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, April 23 there will be a total of 12 Sports competing for the 14 perpetual shields and six medallions issued to players judged best a field.

To donate and for more information contact the Murray Bridge RSL on 8532 1314 or Joe on 0488 532 596.


This Sunday night, Murray Bridge United take on rivals the Torrens Valley Rams of Birdwood under lights at Birdwood Park as part of the Annual ANZAC Sports Carnival hosted by the Murray Bridge RSL.

The two clubs have a long-established rivalry, and no doubt this game will live up to expectations as they battle it out for the Operation Gold Perpetual Shield, named in honour of the Australian Defence Forces contribution to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The Rams won the inaugural encounter on penalties last year and will be on guard while the boys from the Bridge will be desperate to get their hands on the shield for the first time.

The two clubs have a fierce rivalry which means bragging rights, pride and history is on the line as both Clubs are wanting enjoy promotion again.

The two club’s B teams will play in the curtain raiser at 5pm, followed by the welcome ceremony at 6:45pm, then kick off is at 7pm.

The public are welcomed and encouraged to come along to Birdwood Park, Shannon Street, Birdwood and help support the RSL’s cause.

Ten-pin bowling

This Sunday, the RSL’s Annual ANZAC Sports Carnival will see Murray Bridge’s very own Bridge Bowl play host to a nine No Tap Bowling competition which will see some of this region’s keenest bowlers compete for the Coral Sea Perpetual Shield.

Inaugural winners mother and son bowling duo Maxine Welch and Shaun Smith will again be competing and are keen to do battle and aim to go back to back.

The Shield’s name acknowledges events that took place in the Coral Sea during the Second Wold War some 800km northeast from Australia between between the Japanese and allied navies, being Australia and the United States.

The Battle of the Coral Sea was significant as it was the first battle in naval history fought between aircraft carries it was also an important turning point in the war in the Pacific as it’s often referred to as The Battle That Saved Australia.

Steve Murray from Bridge Bowl said the significance of the carnival and this event has made the activity particularly popular with the region’s top tournament bowlers. 

“Nominations are strong and no doubt it’s becoming one of the cornerstone events in our tournament calendar,” he said.

The public are welcomed and encouraged to come along to Bridge Bowl, Maurice Road, Murray Bridge at 10am this Sunday to help support the RSL’s cause and at the same time be treated to some of our region’s best Ten Pin Bowlers. 

Pistol Shooting

This Sunday, members from the Murray Bridge Pistol Club will compete in an intra-club pistol shooting event as part of the Murray Bridge RSL’s annual ANZAC Sports Carnival.

The RSL is encouraging all members of the public to come along and support its cause.

The shooters will compete for The Nui Le Perpetual Shield, named in honour of the last battle to involve Australian troops during the Vietnam campaign. 

The shield’s name is inspired by the service of Murray Bridge RSL member Rod Harris, a Vietnam Veteran who witnessed and experienced first-hand the events unfold at Nui Le. 

Mr Harris said it was an honour and privilege to have a perpetual shield named after a battle that he was involved in. 

“It’s also humbling to know that there is interest and acknowledgement in the battle that I am very proud to have served in,” he said.

Body Building

This Sunday, 10am body building makes its debut in the Murray Bridge RSL’s annual ANZAC Sports Carnival at the Murray Bridge Community Club.

The RSL is encouraging all members of the public to come along and support its cause.

The Competition is a Promo event which will be known as the Shield, featuring both local and current serving Australian Defence Force members competing in the inaugural event.

As with other disciplines within the carniva,l both the men’s and women’s competitors will be competing for perpetual shields named in honour of significant military events. 

The men will be competing for the Operation Catalyst Perpetual Shield which acknowledges Australian’s involvement in Iraq Campaign from 2003-2009.

The women will be competing for the East Timor Campaign Perpetual Shield which acknowledges Australia’s largest Peace Keeping Operation from 1999 – 2012.

Tickets are available at the door Adults $20, Concession $15 and Kids under 15 $10 with all proceeds going to the high school student scholarships.