Merrick Watts was in Vietnam for a few days around the AFL Grand Final… and wow did he deliver for charity!! Back-to-back commitments to support the Vietnam Swans, Loreto Vietnam and Swim Vietnam, with the aid of organisation by the Australian Chamber of Commerce, Saigon International Comedy and a couple of Swannies committees. Merrick was the star of events in the south, but the Swans were absolutely everywhere in Vietnam.

Read on for more!

Merrick Headlines an International Comedy Show

Together with Saigon International Comedy, Merrick joined up with local and international comedians here in HCMC on Thursday 27 September. The venue was packed, with a little over 170 through the door on the night, including stars like Luke Nguyen.

Merrick Watts Comedy Night

We received great feedback from the show. News had quickly spread across Thao Dien and an awesome crowd was in attendance: thanks to Merrick for being so generous with his time and making this event possible.

The comedians who put together a solid showcase are also worthy of mention: Devin Gray who hosted the event, Xăm Khăng² Đã Hồ (aka Funny Viet Girl), Uy Le and Ben Betterby. Thanks to all, especially to Funny Viet Girl who had clearly done her homework on the Australian part of the audience!

Thanks to everyone who supported the event and the venue staff at Jaspas Thao Dien. What a show!

The AusCham Grand Final Golf Scrambles

The AusCham Grand Final Golf Scrambles is an annual event by our good mates at the Australian Chamber of Commerce.

A handful of hours after the Comedy Show was done, 80 pairs hit off on the Thursday morning. Merrick donned his best golfing attire as our Swans ambassador. First tee: 230m straight down the fairway. Boom.

Auscham Golf Scrambles Vietnam Swans Merrick Watts

A teams of Swans players also went around, with Fabulous Phil Jordan tearing the course apart while the other 3 team members just tore (literally) up the trees!!! The Swans supported the 16th hole, adding a bit of novelty with a kick for goal to determine the tee-off location. Thanks Trent and Dinh Anh for a long day in the heat.

Thanks for having us AusCham!

The 2018 AFL Grand Final

Merrick has great credentials in comedy, but probably far more important, he is a die-hard football fan and ‘footy bogan’. For the first time in many years, the Vietnam Swans AFL Grand Final show was a complete sell-out, with all tickets getting snapped up in short order.

Merrick had generously delivered us a signed Collingwood playing jumper and it attracted significant attention. It was the standout amongst the list of auctions items that included signed gear by Alex Jesaulenko (Carlton), the Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions, Hawthorn Hawks and GWS Giants.

Merrick Watts AFL Grand Final 2018 Vietnam

The game was exceptional, coming right down to the final minutes. Merrick stepped up as auctioneer, and our raffles and actions items have never been better supported. All in, the day’s fundraising saw a new record for our functions in Saigon and a further $800 USD that was raised for Loreto Vietnam.

Thanks to our presenting sponsor Expat Tax Services for their support in 2018. Expat Tax Services are  an Australian Chartered Accounting firm based in Ho Chi Minh City that specialises in providing tax advice and tax preparation services for Aussie expats located all around the world. Expat Tax Services have been servicing Australian expats for over 11 years. With clients located in every timezone around the world, Shane and the team at Expat Tax Services understand the tax issues faced by expats firsthand, because they’re not just expatriate tax specialists . . . they’re expats themselves!

We’d also like to thank STONE Accounting and Business Advisory for their support as Diamond Sponsor. Rod and the team are experts for business advisory issues such as BAS returns, payroll, ASIC lodgements, company setups, tax returns and vehicle / equipment finance advice, on top of any individual guidance on tax, superannuation and more.

We also appreciate the ongoing support of our raffle prize donors, many of whom have been with us for years: JetstarPullman HotelCaravelle Hotel SaigonLe MeridianBeachside Boutique Hotel Hoi AnSaigon MotorcyclesNinja Ink TattooCheesecake NgonMeatworks ButcheryMoose and RooAl Fresco’sJaspasTurtle Lake Brewing CompanyChopsPizza BelgaSky 9 Rooftop Bar and Western BBQEddies New York DinerBaba’s KitchenPoke FreshKepi and Wish.

Vietnam Swans AFL Grand Final Party Prizes

Finally, a huge thanks to Nathan and the team at Jaspas who made the day a success. Al Frescos (including their flagship restaurants Jaspas) have been a long-term supporter of the club. Their staff and venues are superb and we can’t recommend them highly enough.

… It Doesn’t Stop in Saigon

There were big events all over Vietnam, with the Hanoians and the central coast-ers also doing their bit for charity.

The Hanoi Grand Final was held at Jaspas Hanoi Tower and again delivered funds for local causes and the Swans’ football development program. 14m VND ($600 USD or $850AUD) will go to infrastructure at Niem Son School, including water heaters and pumps to improve the toilet/shower facilities. Small changes like this make a major difference to local kids in Vietnam!

Hanoi 2018 AFL Grand Final

The Hanoi Grand Final event also gave us a tease of the playing jumpers that will feature in the AFLX Tournament in Hanoi on December 8. Thanks to Jack and Nini from Ninja Ink Tattoo for the epic designs. This tournament will be held in conjunction with the Swan’s season wrap-up and awards night: see you there in December!

In Hoi An, 7m VND ($300 USD or $420 AUD) was donated from ticket sales at their AFL Grand Final event at 3 Dragons Sports Bar & Restaurant to Swim Vietnam. Levi Kessler, 3 Dragons Manager, and club legend MJ handed over the funds to Doan Minh Trung, Swim Vietnam’s Manager. “Enough to put 1,000 kids through our primary schools’ Water Safety Awareness Program”, said Trung.

Vietnam Swans Three Dragons Swim Vietnam 2018 AFL Grand Final

Mega awesome. Thanks to all those from the various organising committees of the Vietnam Swans, including Eric, Dan and the boys in the North, the Southerners represented by Rod Stone, Rod White, Chia, Billy, Fabbo, James, and MJ in Hoi An. Apologies to anyone we’ve missed but particularly all those who’ve furiously sold tickets, gathered raffle prizes or helped out to make these events possible.

2018 has been a Record Fundraising Year

When it was all said and done, 2018 is looking like a record for the Vietnam Swans in terms of event attendance and dollars raised. Final numbers are yet to be tallied, but the total raised is looking like about $8,500 USD or $12,000 AUD. These funds are vitally important and support the education programs implemented by Loreto Vietnam, Swim Vietnam and Niem Son School.

These funds also support the football development program run by the Vietnam Swans. The Swans invest significantly to take our local players to games all across Asia, including regional tournaments. We’ve also launched AFLW in 2018 and will be taking a full squad to Kuala Lumpur in about a week to compete in the inaugural AFLW Championship. Our local stars Lucy and Linh will both be there! The support we enjoy from sponsors, supporters, donors and special guests like Merrick makes all of this possible.

Thanks to Mez!

As you can imagine, this amount of funds can go a long way in Vietnam. A huge thanks to Rod White for making it possible to bring Merrick over to Ho Chi Minh… and an even bigger thanks to Merrick for staying true when his beloved Pies actually made the Grand Final!!

It was no small sacrifice by Merrick. Merrick is a massive Collingwood fan and committed to us back when Collingwood were sitting 12th of the ladder. Check out Merrick talking about his trip to Vietnam on Channel 10’s The Project (at 4:00), only days before the Grand Final.

Merrick was superb from the very moment he landed until we reluctantly said goodbye. He’s got some decent footy skills too!

Merrick Watts Trains with Vietnam Swans 2018

We’re off to Asian Championships to wrap up 2018!

There is just one hurdle left in 2018: our very own grand final, the Asian Championships. This tournament will be held in Kuala Lumpur on October 13, where a little over 20 teams will contest for several titles. More news on this to come next week!