Several months after the Far North Coast region of NSW was severely impacted by inundation as a result of a major flood, life for most has returned to some degree of normality. As far as local football is concerned, the water has long subsided and to the casual observer, football fields appear to be lush and ready for play?
The lingering rain since late March, has however prevented several fields from full recovery, with mowers unable to navigate sodden surfaces and difficulties remaining to complete necessary line marking and field set up. Italo Stars FC was one of the most seriously affected clubs during the flood, with water reaching an estimated 3 “plus” metres above the highest ground level at the club’s facilities and arriving with a velocity that destroyed perimeter fencing and infrastructure with devastating consequences.
The proud North Lismore Club has had a wretched year in 2017. The celebrations and renewed spirit of optimism of 2016 when the club reflected on a marvellous first 50 years have regretfully been tempered by the hurdles faced this year. In a world that too often has tragedies that reveal others who are suffering infinitely more than our own problems, the impact of the recent flood was able to demonstrate how adversity fortunately has a contrapositive influence. The offers of support to those impacted by the flood was completely overwhelming. Gestures made through kind words, material help through cash, goods and service, came with unconditional generosity and genuine concern for the well being of individuals, families and community groups.
It is not necessary to quantify the level of support that typically represents assistance that is way more than a definitive material value. Of the many items that were donated to various member clubs, Football Far North Coast received fifty pairs of football boots to distribute to families who had in many cases lost “everything” in the flood. The task of matching these items with those who had the appropriate need has been challenging for several reasons. The reality is that football ONLY returned to some clubs this weekend and working with individual clubs and their members has been a sensitive process. Family and work life have been the priorities and football has been respectful of the broader realities.
On behalf of local football and our community, I offer a sincere thanks to Ilan Hurwitz who secured 50 pairs of boots to send up from Sydney. These boots were re-laced and cleaned and in conjunction with Jake Ghalloub and Christian Layland from the “Football Sack”, Football Far North Coast was able to start a distribution process with Italo Stars FC. The image attached shows junior players who represent those where the help is aimed at with FFNC working with Stars to ensure that all pairs of boots go to players who need support. Club representatives were deeply moved by the gesture and putting some context into things, the photo above was taken adjacent to the club’s main field that was about three metres under water back in April.
To see smiles on so many faces and football being played again at Barrow Lane, North Lismore, was a joy to behold. There is still much to be done at clubs like Italo Stars FC, however football is alive and well despite the hurdles and challenges that are still ahead.
THANK YOU to Ilan, Jake and Christian for reaching out in a practical way and for showing how the football family exists everywhere.