HAWTHORN and Richmond will play a pre-season game in north-western Tasmania next year as the AFL seeks to support the Devonport community after the tragic accident at a primary school this week.
Five children died and several others were injured on Thursday when a wind gust caused a jumping castle at Hillcrest Primary School to fly into the air.
The devastating accident prompted an outpouring of grief and support from across the nation, and the AFL announced on Saturday that it would host a tribute match in the region between the Hawks and Tigers at 1.10pm AEDT on Saturday, March 5.
The League will also host a fundraising event in the lead-up to the game, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said.
"On behalf of the AFL, I extend my deepest condolences to everyone impacted by the accident at Hillcrest Primary in Devonport earlier this week," McLachlan said.
"To all those affected by the tragedy, including the families, first responders, the school community, and the wider Devonport community, we send our thoughts.
"We can't imagine the heartbreak that everyone in the close-knit North-West community of Tasmania is going through – we share in that heartbreak and as an industry we are united in our commitment to help.
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"Together with the Hawthorn and Richmond Football Clubs, we will work closely with the local community and the Tasmanian Government and hold a fundraising event in the lead-up to the match which will be played on March 5 to benefit those impacted by the tragic circumstance. North Melbourne Football Club, which also has a strong and long-standing relationship with Tasmania, will also provide support.
"A fundraiser and a game of football cannot change what has happened, but it is one way for our game to wrap our arms around the North-West community of Tasmania and show our support."
The Hawks will host the game against the Tigers, who have a long-standing connection to the region through champion forward Matthew Richardson and his family, who hail from Devonport.
North Melbourne, which has also long supported AFL football in Tasmania through its home games in Hobart, will provide support for the pre-season tribute game.
Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said the club would do all it could to help the community.
"Everyone has been completely heartbroken by the tragic loss of young lives in Devonport this week," Gale said.
"Nothing can make right what has happened but if in some small way we can help bring the Devonport and north-west coastal community together, then we are only too happy to help."
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett echoed Gale's sentiments: "We stand alongside and ready to help the community in any way we can. We hope this game is another contribution to the many being made across the country to help ease the pain of the local community, school and families."
While the Kangaroos players won't take part in the game, North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio said his club's links to Tasmania meant the club was desperate to assist in any way possible.
"We've had a decade-long relationship with the people of Tasmania and 12 players across our men's and women's teams are from Tassie. This incredibly tragic event has hit us particularly hard," Amarfio said.
"Words are shallow right now but we want to make a commitment to do whatever we can over the coming weeks and months to support those touched by this tragedy to assist with their healing and recovery."