By Jed Lanyon
Olinda footballer Mitch Bonuda notched up his 300th senior game in unique circumstances on Sunday 20 June.
Bonuda said the 300th game came as a “relief” after having the big occasion delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions. The return of community sports saw spectators locked out of local grounds meaning friends and family couldn’t be there on the day for Bonuda.
“I’ve had a lot of people contacting me from all the competitions and teams I’ve played for throughout the years, it was a really nice experience and shows how far reaching the football community is.
“It was a funny one, a real strange buildup to the game. People told me to have a couple weeks off to get the crowds back up, but I just wanted to get it out of the way.”
Olinda coach Brendan Donovan made the occasion special by organising for some of Bonuda’s former coaches and teammates to prepare video messages that were played in the lead up to his 300th game.
“It made the days really special and dulled the fact that a lot of friends couldn’t come and got me excited about it again,” he said.
And despite there being no crowds in attendance, the Olinda players insisted on celebrating a big win over Doveton by carrying Bonuda off the ground on their shoulders.
“It was very strange, the guys put me up on their shoulders and walked me off after the game,” he said.
“You’re meant to sort of give a wave to the crowd but there was no crowd there, so there wasn’t much point to it but it was a nice experience.”
Bonuda started his senior career with Mooroolbark aged 16 and has now played for Woori Yallock, Vermont and now Olinda. He said he’s fortunate enough to have played in four premierships, each being special for their own reason.
He shared how the club was faring after being close to the devastation of the storms earlier in the month.
“A few of the players’ families have been impacted by trees fallen on houses and having their power drop out. We’ve tried to rally behind them, our netball coach had his property pretty damaged as well.
“We’re lucky enough to have generators up at the footy club and we’ve been sharing the ground with the community, so we’re seeing firsthand people coming in and out who have been affected by it.”