By Hayley Wildes
There are days within a local community that bring everyone together and on Saturday at the Lang Lang showgrounds, the Lang Lang Football and Netball Clubs joined forces with Longwarry Football and Netball Club to raise much-needed funds for charity.
As well as a community fair and fun day that included face-painting, jumping castles, and a farm animal petting area, the day was all about raising funds for the Cancer Council Victoria.
With all gate proceeds and tickets sales from the charity day luncheon being donated to the charity, it was a day that truly showcased what a local sporting club means to its community.
“The role that we believe the club has got within the community to be a leader for kids, families and people in general is something that we wanted to really work on,” Lang Lang Football Club president Chris Brew said.
“We did some review after last season and we felt like that was something we could work on as a club; to improve within the community and I guess the day was a big step in the right direction.”
Not only did the day raise $6750 for the Cancer Council Victoria, the stories of two incredible people were shared; Wendy Thom and Stan Alves.
Wendy, a netballer at Lang Lang, spoke about her personal battle with cancer and to say it left those within the room emotional would be an understatement.
With incredible poise, Wendy talked about how – despite sometimes questioning ‘why me?’ – never lost faith and with a young family in tow, had no other choice than to fight the disease.
She fought it head-on and amazingly continued to play the game she loved while undergoing treatment. It wasn’t so much the game that kept her going, but those within the club.
She spoke about the banter and relationships within the club as helping her overcome the biggest challenge of her life.
Chris was blown away by Wendy’s composure.
“That was a little bit of a surprise on the day,” Chris said of Wendy’s speech.
“I know Wendy is a terrific person and I knew her story, but I didn’t expect her to be that good of a speaker – she was unbelievably good. I knew she was going to say a few things and talk about her experience, but I didn’t realise it would be that powerful.”
Stan Alves is a name synonymous with Aussie Rules football, but his story is about much more than sporting achievements.
He played 266 games for Melbourne and North Melbourne, and won a premiership with the Kangaroos in 1977, but none of that mattered when his son was struck by a train and killed at the age of 13 in 1989.
Stan talked openly and honestly about the struggles he endured through that period of his life, but with the support of those around him, came out the other side to ensure he was there for his wife and daughter.
Having someone of Stan’s sporting stature come to Lang Lang was impressive, but as Chris explained, the human side of his story was just as important.
“We wanted to target someone that we knew had that human element,” Chris said.
“We wanted to get someone who was a good person, more so than celebrating someone’s sporting career and just talking about themself, because we wanted the day to be about community, looking after yourself, being positive in life and trying to work through adversity.”
While the club is currently working through some on-field adversity, Chris is confident it’s heading in the right direction.
“We’re trying to get all our pillars in place off the field and then hoping that everything will flow on from there,” he said.
“If we get everything right off the field – we’ve got a fantastic new coach who’s got a new system in place – long-term I’ve got no doubt that’s going to put us in good stead and the playing success, it’s only a matter of time before that comes.”
Lang Lang Football Club would to thank the day’s major partner; Laura McBride and the Lang Lang Community Bank Branch, as well as sponsors J&Y Healey Flowers, Firewood-Depot Grantville, Bunnings Trade, Caldermeade McDonalds, Dahlsens Pakenham, Taihla May’de Hair and Beauty, Lang Lang Bakery, and Reece Irrigation Pakenham.
The Longwarry Football Netball Club, Longwarry Junior Football Club, Caldermeade Cannons Junior Football Club, and Lang Lang United Soccer Club also supported the day.
Be sure to grab a copy of next week’s Pakenham Gazette for more on the inspiring speeches of Wendy Thom and Stan Alves.