Gods of Football
Gods of Football, part of Naked For A Cause initiative featured some of the sexiest Australian rules football players and Australian Rugby League players. The campaign was organized for producing an accompaying nude calendar to raise money for the McGrath Foundation, which supports breast cancer research and cancer awareness. The creative director and the photographer of the project was Pedro Virgil.
The initiative was launched on the Footy Show on the 14 August 2008. A first selection players was profiled. Images of each weeks' selection of players were published in Australia's Sunday Telegraph newspaper as well. Forty of Australian rules footballers and Australian Rugby League footballers were invited to pose naked. The provocative fundraising campaign was highly successful transforming the young sporting athletes into international male calendar celebrities. Although there was some opposition for the explicit nudity, the campaign generated great goodwill as well.
Calendars were issued for 2008, 2009 (Rugby League Calendar / Australian Rules Calendar / International Calendar), 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Accompanying DVDs are sometimes prepared, e.g. The Making of the 2009 Calendars, a film by Grant Carroll and released by Naked For A Cause. Special country releases may have different covers.
The following National Rugby League players were confirmed to take part in consideration for final selection:
- Canterbury Bulldogs: Michael Sullivan, Daniel Holdsworth, Nick Youngquest
- South Sydney Rabbitohs: Shannon Hegarty
- North Sydney Bears: Nathaniel Barnes, Luke Grant
- Sydney Roosters: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, David Shillington, Sandor Earl, Dominique Peyroux
- Wests Tigers: Beau Ryan, Dene Halatau, Chris Lawrence, Chris Heighington
- Manly Sea Eagles: David Williams, Anthony Watmough, Chris Stolk, Matt Ballin, Brett Stewart
- St. George Illawarra Dragons: Matt Cooper, Stuart Webb
- Gold Coast Titans: Daniel Conn, Kayne Lawton
- Melbourne Storm: Will Chambers, Brett White, Dallas Johnson
- Canberra Raiders: Justin Carney, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Brett Kelly
Only 24 were chosen eventually, 12 for the rugby league football calendar and 12 for the AFL edition. All 24 appeared in the special international edition.
Australian rules football players:
Andrew Welsh (Voted #1), Justin Sherman (Voted #2), Andrew Walker (Voted #3), Ryan Houlihan, Michael Osborne, Luke Hodge, Trent Croad, Chris A. Johnson, Joel Macdonald, Jordan Bannister, Tom Hislop, Courtney Johns
- Daily Telegraph Australia: Galleries - Gods of Football
- Outsports.com: Gods of Football gallery
- EthanSays.com: Pedro Vrgil
- DVD The Making of the 2009 Calendars page including both international and UK edition covers on the Official Australian Gods of Football website
- Excerpts from the DVD The Making of the 2009 Calendars on the Official Australian Gods of Football website