When Heidelberg United pair Rita Mankowska and Katie Neville step out onto the Olympic Village pitch this weekend. they will be doing so as ambassadors of the second edition of the beyondblue Bash.
Both players have been affected personally by the struggles that can come about due to mental illness, which drew the players to draft out a way of helping the cause through the means of football.
In stepped in beyondblue, a service that aims to “provide information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live”.
The first iteration of the beyondblue Bash was a resounding success as Galaxy hosted the Bergers in 2016.
This year, Olympic Village will house what both Mankowska and Neville hope is a healthy crowd on Saturday afternoon to take part in the festivities as they take on the high-flying Galaxy United.
Fund raising efforts for the event will include a gold coin donation, a raffle and the sale of blue laces for all players, with all money raised going directly to the charity.
The club have also secured guest speaker Mark Thomas for the event, a veteran of 20 years in Emergency Services, where his life experiences have prompted him to become a volunteer speaker for beyondblue to raise awareness of anxiety and depression and reduce the associated stigma and encourage people to get help.
“Katie and I are both really excited and proud to hosting our second beyondblue Bash, this year on Heidelberg’s home turf,” Mankowska said.
“This year will be even better than last year with all three of our junior teams also joining in on the initiative by wearing blue laces on the day.
“We have even been lucky enough to secure a special guest speaker from the organisation, an awesome guy named Mark Thomas who is going to share his story with us all in a post-match presentation.
“In addition to this we will also be asking for a gold coin donation upon entry, and will be hosting another day-long ‘Pick Your Prize’ raffle throughout the day.
“We’ve had some amazing prizes donated to the cause, such as a one-month Unlimited Gym Membership donated by F45 Heidelberg (Retail Value $264) as well as a priceless Melbourne Victory prize pack with signed A-League and W-League merchandise to name a few, so make sure you come down for your chance to win!
“Last year we raised approximately $3,000 so we would like to at least match that figure this year and would appreciate everybody’s support in helping us achieve that goal, it’s for a great cause.”
READ MORE > Rita & Katie’s story
To aid the cause, get down to the Village on Saturday, with the junior fixtures beginning from 10am, while the seniors kick-off at 3pm.