Current Socceroo Tim Cahill and former Australian national team captain Peter Raskopoulos have lent their support to the Heartbeat of Football Foundation by returning to their childhood football clubs and helping them receive lifesaving defibrillators.
Along with his Socceroos teammate Bailey Wright, Cahill was at the home of Marrickville Devils, Mackey Park, to help unveil the ZAPSTAND which is a public defibrillator that is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The life saving device is the first of its kind to be installed at a sporting venue.
The Inner West Council and the State Government was responsible for its deployment in what is hoped to be the first of many in sporting venues across the country.
Former SBS football presenter Andy Paschalidis, who is the founder of the Heartbeat of Football Foundation, and Reno Aprile, whose company Cardiac Responder owns and operates the device, have formed an alliance and were a major factor in the life saving machine being installed.
“It’s a privilege for us to be here as Socceroos and footballers,” Cahill said.
“Firstly the work that Andy (Paschalidis) has put behind this is unbelievable. I have known him my whole life
“I played here as a kid. I grew up in these areas and played for a lot of local clubs, but this place here I scored my first header on that pitch over there and this is what it’s all about.”
Cahill added: “This has been a personal thing. We have lost close friends that we played with at Belmore Hercules together, you see in the press lately David Ginola, players throughout the world. It’s a massive issue.
“The main thing is we don’t want people to stop playing football. We actually want to encourage people to play football. So it’s good to raise awareness about how amazing this machine is.”
Meanwhile former Socceroo captain Raskopoulos also added his support to the cause by donating a defibrillator to his ex-youth club - Earlwood Wanderers.
“I started here as a junior from the age of six and they were fantastic to me,” he said.
“When I saw that Andy who also played in this region in Hurlstone Park was involved in the Heartbeat of Football Foundation and heard all the stories I became involved.
“I spent the first month of our youngest daughter’s life at the Randwick Children Hospital intensive care unit due to heart problems so it was for the reasons of both football and the heart.”
Paschalidis lauded both Socceroos and the FFA for adding their weight to the cause.
“It’s just incredible that Tim could put it to the forefront and he is genuinely interested in the mission,” he said. “He’s genuinely cares and sees this as a very, very important step for football and sport in general and in the community to take.
“I remember playing against Peter Raskopolous at Earlwood Oval 40 years ago. His donating of a defib to his grass roots club is a fantastic gesture by one of the greats.
Paschalidis added, “It was a very important statement from the launch was that the FFA do care. The FFA made it their main community event of the day and it is one of the biggest one’s they will do in that space and for that we feel privileged.”
- Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.
Photos by Loopii