Masters Footy celebrates 10 years of cancer support

Tuesday 11 June 2024

The Diggers - Ballarat AFL Masters Football Club are celebrating 10 years of support for cancer support organisations. Every second year, they support the Grampians Health Cancer Wellness Centre with a special ‘Cancer Round’. On alternating years, their rivals, the Melton Panthers Superules Football Club support cancer services in their community.

This year, the matches are being held on Sunday 16 June 2024 at Russell Square. The first football game begins at 12:30pm, with speeches and a raffle draw at 4:30pm. 

Justin Kammerer from the Diggers - Ballarat AFL Masters Football Club said there was a long history of the club supporting the Cancer Wellness Centre. 

“Many years ago, one of our players unfortunately lost his partner to cancer. Since then, we’ve been motivated to support cancer treatment in our community,” Mr Kammerer said. “When we heard that the Cancer Wellness Centre received no government funding, we thought what better way to do something in the Ballarat community than to support a charity that is 100% community funded.” 

Mr Kammerer also promises a fun day of footy for all involved. 

“We are all looking forward to wearing our new pink socks and pink shorts as a colourful way to show our support of cancer services in Ballarat. We are also selling tickets for a huge raffle which we will be drawing on the day.” 

Husband and wife, Greg and Henrika Smith, both underwent cancer treatment at the same time, utilising the services of the Cancer Wellness Centre. They recently attended a training session with the footy club to show their support of the ‘Cancer Round’. 

Mrs Smith was diagnosed with lymphoma in October 2022, soon followed by Mr Smith’s prostate cancer diagnosis. Although Mrs Smith received her treatment at St John of God, she was able to use the services of the Cancer Wellness Centre at Grampians Health. 

“During treatment, you can have some really bad days, and being able to visit the Wellness Centre when you are worried is so important. Simone [Noelker, Manager of the Wellness Centre] and her volunteers are so supportive in helping find the answers and just being there to help you when it feels overwhelming.” 

Mr Smith agrees with how invaluable the Wellness Centre has been in providing support and encourages everyone to have a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test. 

“Guys need to listen to the professionals, and not their mates as we’re all different. I had no symptoms before I was diagnosed. If you’ve got any questions, ask the professionals. Simone and her team at the Wellness Centre were so helpful in helping me find more information. They’ve been invaluable in both Henricka’s and my cancer journey.” 

Simone Noelker, Manager of the Cancer Wellness Centre, said she is grateful to both The Diggers - Ballarat AFL Masters Football Club and Henricka and Greg in helping support the Wellness Centre. 

“The Wellness Centre relies on the generosity of our community to provide free education and support for all cancer patients, regardless of where they are having treatment. Every year, community donations help us provide over 3000 free appointments for 21 different programs including oncology massage, gentle exercise groups, our wig library and cancer-specific support groups.” 

Raffle tickets are $25 each and are available from the Cancer Wellness Centre or on the day at Russell Square. The prize is a custom firepit, Sporting Globe voucher, Red Duck beer, Sinclair Meats voucher, and many more. 

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