By Russell Bennett
This Saturday is about so much more than footy and the four premiership points on offer. It’s about so much more than just a game.
In various leagues around the state, it’s about paying serious attention to a message that will save lives.
The statistics from the Cancer Council of Victoria say it all: Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 while more than 2000 Australians each year will die from it.
Carolyn Goodie was one of those people in June 2015. She was just 45.
She was the mother of daughters Alex and Chloe, and the wife of Steve, who played more than 400 games across stints at Gembrook Cockatoo and Upwey-Tecoma in the AFL Yarra Ranges competition, EFL powerhouse Vermont, Cora Lynn and ROC, and who also held a number of coaching and umpiring roles and served as the Brookers’ president for 10 years.
While Steve was the long-time front man of the Brookers, ‘Caz’ – as she was known by most – was doing the tireless work behind the scenes to make the club tick as its heart and soul. She did that until just a few short months before she lost her battle.
Since then, her family has moved forward with a message they desperately want to see save lives.
This Saturday, Round 15 of the AFL Yarra Ranges season, has been renamed the ‘Carolyn Goodie Melanoma Cancer Awareness Round’ in honour of Caz and her fight. Every senior football and netball team across the competition’s two divisions are playing their part to shine a light on the deadly disease but, remarkably, a further 60 clubs across the AFL Barwon, AFL Gippsland, and AFL Yarra Ranges regions will also be taking part.
Steve currently umpires for the Gippsland Umpires Association, which issued a statement to the Gazette about this weekend that said: “GUA umpires will take part in wearing blue and yellow tape, not only in senior footy in West Gippsland but in all grades and all leagues that it services (EDFL and Gippsland League).
“All GUA members will be encouraged to buy a GUA hat to wear on the day, with all proceeds to be donated to the Carolyn Goodie Melanoma Research Foundation.
“Steve’s passion for the cause was evident at a junior game at Garfield played in sunny conditions earlier this season, bringing the young boundary umpires in at half time to make sure they all applied sunscreen.
“Steve is hoping to umpire a West Gippsland Football Competition fourths match before departing for the function at Gembrook. The GUA has two members who have had melanomas removed who are very keen to run with Steve in this match.”
Claire Harrison, the Eastern Health Foundation’s business development manager, also weighed in.
“The Carolyn Goodie Melanoma Round is a wonderful initiative,” she said.
“Eastern Health is delighted to receive the support of the local sporting community and beyond. Funds raised from this special round will go towards melanoma research, which is part of the Eastern Health Foundation’s Research Grants program. Steve’s passion and dedication to the cause is a true inspiration. We are grateful for his incredible generosity, and we can’t thank him enough.”
AFL Yarra Ranges operations manager Cameron Hutchison said the league is proud to support the work Steve and the Goodie family is doing in honour of Caz.
“On 5 and 6 August our senior and junior clubs will participate in the Melanoma Round,” he said.
“Steve is continuing with his passion for community involvement by raising awareness of melanoma and urging people to get any suspect moles checked out in the hope of saving lives. The AFL Yarra Ranges is promoting this message through its clubs and social media means throughout the week.”
West Gippsland Football Netball Competition (WGFNC) senior league operations coordinator Jason Membrey said the league was proud to join AFL Yarra Ranges and AFL Barwon in staging the melanoma awareness round.
“All 10 clubs will participate in the initiative with football and netball teams across every grade of competition set to wear yellow armbands in a bid to raise awareness of the cause and the key message that prevention is better than a cure for this disease,” he said.
Richmond superstar forward Jack Riewoldt, who has also battled melanoma, sent a video message through social media urging everyone involved in footy to check their skin regularly for any changing spots or blemishes.
But the last word is best left to Steve, who paid tribute to Caz.
“Who was Carolyn Goodie? She was the girl next door. She was the mother, the daughter, the person who just happened to marry a football-head. She didn’t have a big name but she was someone who was unlucky enough to marry a footballer and be involved in the community all her life. This really can happen to anyone.”