THE Muswellbrook Heelers have a number of reasons to return to the Newcastle-Hunter Rugby Union winner’s circle this weekend.
But, most of them will take a backseat to one major motive – joining forces with Where There’s A Will (WTAW) for the club’s biggest event on its calendar, Memorial Day.
“Each year the Heelers remember our players and supporters who are no longer with us,” president Greg Buckley said.
“In the past, we’ve also raised money for charities, including Cancer Council NSW, Beyond Blue and the Muswellbrook District Hospital’s Emergency Department.
“In 2018, we have chosen to partner with WTAW, a local charity which aims to address significant mental health issues facing the Upper Hunter.
“Their focus is on prevention through education, while developing the knowledge, skills and resilience to attain ‘mental fitness’.
“Our link to WTAW, in some ways, is through Matt Kane, who took his own life.
“Males (18 to 30 years) seem to be the age target affected [these days], which is also the demographic of this club.
“So, it’s fitting we’re playing for the shield named in Matt’s honour on Saturday, too.
“We’ve worked with WTAW to create an amazing one-off jumper.
“They will be worn by the players for this game only and are the ones that will be auctioned after the match.
“Since sport brings people together, we’re keen to use the tools at our disposal to not only educate people, but raise awareness [and money] for WTAW and their work in the community.
“Hopefully, more clubs will follow our lead in the future.”
WTAW’s Andrea Burns was thrilled with the affiliation.
“The Heelers are a one team club – and it’s a massive day for them,” she said.
“They donated money to WTAW last year, but this is the first time we’ve had the jumper sponsorship.
“It’s great to get another club, in the Muswellbrook community, on board.
“We hope there’s a big crowd on hand to support the boys.”
Buckley added the Heelers were keen to add the Griffins’ scalp to their tally, following their mid-week loss to the Waratahs.
“We’re reasonably confident this weekend – we’ve held the Matt Kane Memorial Shield the past decade,” he said.
“There’s plenty to play for as well.
“One, it’s our first home game in 2018; two, it’s Memorial Day, which always brings out the best in us; and, three, we need a win.
“We’ll be close to full-strength on Saturday.”
The match kicks off at 3pm.