ATTENTION wannabe footballers…it is time to dust off the boots once again.
Following the massive success of last year’s TAB.COM.AU Charity Football Day, the date for the third annual ‘round robin’ battle for the TAB Cup has been set.
Along with the footy, the popular netball tournament is also returning as the ‘gals’ compete for the Aldebaran Cup.
So between now and September 27, all players are well-advised to spend a little extra time on the training track – not in a sulky, but in a pair of runners!
Although Shepparton are the reigning champions, they have elected to defend their title at Bendigo, with the four districts to remain Melton (Go Blues), Ballarat, Shepparton and Bendigo.
In what shapes as a fun filled addition, there will also be a Legends Match between to ‘well-seasoned’ teams.
A small fee of $50 for players and spectators (under 16 free) covers the costs of a sausage sizzle, the games and the night’s function.
The function will also include a memorabilia auction, so remember to bring your wallet.
Between the fees and auction, last year’s day raised more than $40,000 for children suffering from Neurofibromatosis (NF).
The inaugural edition raised $14,000, and considering the foundation receives $18,000 a year for research from the government, everyone who has supported the event can continue to hold their heads high.
In a bid to spread to the wealth, organiser Robbie O’Connell has added two worthy causes, which are also in desperate need of funding and publicity.
“After talking to quite a few participants last year I realised there are so many harness racing families affected by diseases or conditions I’ve never heard of,” O’Connell said.
“So this year we will split the money raised between three charities. Neurofibromatosis is still on board, with Epidermolysis Bullosa and Congenital adrenal hyperplasia also part of our family.
“Epidermolysis Bullosa is a terrible condition, which causes a child’s skin to blister from the slightest touch and can even cause death.
“Congenital adrenal hyperplasia are any of several autosomal recessive diseases resulting from mutations of genes for enzymes mediating the biochemical steps of production of cortisol from cholesterol by the adrenal glands”.
Excited by the prospect of the day growing in stature, organiser Robbie O’Connell is confident the money raised this time surpass last year’s amazing tally.
“It’s not going to be easy to beat the $40,000 we raised last year, but I believe we can do it,” O’Connell said. “There is no reason why we can’t grow it a little further.
“The great thing is the day is open to all harness racing participants, be it owners, stablehands, trainers, drivers, club officials, administrators.
“Even journalists…we’re open minded!”
One of the first benefactors to support the concept was Tabcorp, which has returned as the naming right sponsor again.
Tabcorp will supply the football jumpers for the six teams.
“It is our pleasure to support such a wonderful day,” Tabcorp’s Nick Tzaferis said. “This is a terrific cause to be involved in and a great way to give back to the harness racing community, which does so much for charity.”
Azuma International is also returning and will once again produce personalised football boots and runners.
Each pair will have the player’s name – or nickname – with orders to be placed with O’Connell.
The boots will be sold at a cut cost of $90, with the runners costing $70.
Paul Smart has also announced Azuma International will donate $20 from each pair sold to the charity.
“It was our honour to produce the special harness racing football boots last year and we are more than happy to be involved again,” Smart said.
For more information contact Rob O’Connell on telephone 0404 728 885, or contact the regional coaches – Shepparton – Gary Pekin; Melton – Peter Scarpino; Bendigo – Larry Eastman and Ballarat – Leroy O’Brien.
– PAUL COURTS