A Day Bigger Than Football

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The final figure for money raised in the inaugural ‘Let’s Kick Cancer Cup’ last Saturday will remain a tight secret until a cheque is presented to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre over the next few days.

The event, which had the GFL match between Grovedale and Leopold as its centerpiece, was a “flying” success according to founder Tim Russell, who hopes to make the Cup a yearly event across local football to raise awareness of the insidious disease that is cancer.

“That is the end vision (to make it an annual event). We want to make it a cancer awareness round, or a Let’s Kick Cancer Round or whatever they might want to call it, because we think there’s so many people in our community who go through it, whether it be immediate family or friends they know, and they all go through our local cancer centre,” he said.

Russell launched the Let’s Kick Cancer Cup in after the death of his mother Rosemary from liver cancer last year, and wanted to give back to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre which helped his family so much, and continues to do great work with others.

“As Adam Broad, a leading oncologist in Geelong said, there’s 2000 or 3000 people a year that go through that Andrew Love Centre, and if we can help out a little bit by raising some money today then that would be great”, he said.

“People know about it (cancer) but still don’t talk about it a great deal. Everyone knows someone that’s been through it, and it’s just raising that cancer awareness, and if this helps in some little way then we’ve done our job”, Russell at the event last Saturday.

The day was well received by all involved, and Russell said the 22 players from the day themselves raised more than $1100, despite the final total figure being kept tight lipped. Russell said he wanted those two teams to be the showpiece game, as Leopold was where Rosemary’s three grandsons played, and Grovedale was where another grandson plied his trade, as well as where Russell himself is a member.

“We want it to be focused around the Leopold-Grovedale game,” he said.

“We’ll have the return match next year over there (at Leopold), and hopefully we can get the league on board, and this is our vision – it’ll always be on the Leopold v Grovedale weekend.”

The day also involved a luncheon, in which an auction of various items raised further money, and guests were treated to speeches from Geelong midfielder Cam Guthrie (whose own mother is fighting breast cancer), Geelong Brownlow medalist Paddy Dangerfield, and skin cancer survivor and advocate Tim McGrath.

McGrath, who also played for the Cats through the 1990s, said while the physical toll cancer takes is “horrific”, he pleaded for everyone to be on top of their health.

“Statistically 1 in 2 people in this country could be affected by cancer”, he said. “The cost is irrelevant; if you go there (to the doctor) and find something you can knock it on the head straight away”.

McGrath, who was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2013, said he was feeling great now and proud to be involved in the fundraising event.

“I’ve gone from three monthly check ups to every six months and one scan a year, which is a great thing,” he said.

“It’s a great initiative and great of AFL Barwon to get onboard and get behind it.”

The match itself finished in a close-fought seven-point win for reigning Premier Leopold, but Russell’s vision wasn’t solely about the game, but to focus on the bigger picture and use football to bring the community together in raising cancer awareness.

“Everyone has been affected by it so it’s just having that awareness out there,” he said.

“We’re a big community in Geelong, and if we can do our little bit, and everyone else can do their bit, in the future we can become this big entity that can do this, then that’s what we’re striving on.”

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