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AFL chief’s generous tribute to John McLaughlin

As many readers of the South West Voice in Macarthur would be aware, John McLaughlin is doing it tough.

The man they call Mr AFL across the greater South Western Sydney was diagnosed with last stage mesothelioma.

The terrible diagnosis came just a few weeks before the pandemic crashed through our collective lives.

Mesothelioma is an asbestos related disease or cancer which viciously attacks the lungs and makes breathing very, very difficult.

So that’s where John McLaughlin is at the age of 77 – fighting for his life knowing the odds are stacked again him.

But Mr AFL is a fighter and is continuing to do whatever he can to beat the mesothelioma.

His spirits were lifted this week when a letter came through from none other than Gillon McLachlan, the AFL boss.

From where I sit this fellow has a lot to teach other CEOs around the country, but you be the judge how good a gesture this was from the very top of the biggest football code in Australia:

Dear John: I hope this email finds you in the best possible way, in the current tough circumstances you are facing. I know you’ve got a big battle on your hands with your health but you’re determined to fight as hard as you can. 

On behalf of the AFL, I offer you and your family every good wish for the times ahead, and I also want to thank you for the lifetime of magnificent service you’ve given our game at a grassroots level over the last 50 years and more.

The presence of our game in Western Sydney, and the very existence of the Campbelltown Football Club, owes a huge debt to the time and energy you have given our game.

Our sport was indeed lucky to have you as a relocated Victorian driving our game in the suburbs of Sydney, and I hope you feel a great sense of satisfaction today when you look at two elite NSW-based teams as part of our national game.

The GWS Giants now represent the very region where you helped to build our game and the outcomes you’ve driven at a community level will stretch long into the future.

Your work with academy players and young indigenous players has improved lives, created understanding and better relationships between communities and provided an example for how best we can do things all around our country.

The strength of your family will be a guiding light for you in the weeks ahead, but I want you to know how much the wider game appreciates what you have done, and how thankful we are to have had your energy and commitment.

My best wishes,

Gillon McLachlan.

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