Soccer for a cause: La Fiamma Dream Team and Geraldton All-Stars come together for men’s mental health

Lachlan AllenMidwest Times
The La Fiamma Dream Team in their custom mental health kit.
Camera IconThe La Fiamma Dream Team in their custom mental health kit. Credit: Russell Schneider

The La Fiamma Dream Team and the Geraldton All-Stars faced off on Saturday afternoon for a good cause, raising $10,000 for Beyond Blue at the Salva Sciuto Stadium.

While the end result saw the Reds triumph 8-1, the big winner on the day was men’s mental health.

La Fiamma legend Greg Homer said the idea for the match came from himself and current La Fiamma captain Lachlan Gray.

“So basically, we’re at an age for the old boys where life does become tough. You have a lot of responsibilities and there’s so many things to do with mental health nowadays, particularly for men.”

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“Lachlan and I thought, right, let’s get all the guys up there. Get them together, get them having a great time feeling like they’re 19 again and at the same time, raise as much money as we can for such a valuable cause.”

The La Fiamma community turned out on the day, with around 200 people showing their support.

“We took to the pitch and I think the game was more of a laugh than an athletic event. Just a lot of great memories created on the pitch,” Homer said.

“The score didn’t matter. I think we scored more on injuries and how many pulled hamstrings there were on one team to the other.”

A total of 136 shirts were sold for the match, custom-designed by Gray, featuring the blue tree signifying mental health.

“It’s wonderful to see a club like La Fiamma doing so much, not just for a sport that everybody loves but doing as much as they can for the community and it’s great to see the community that came out to support that too,” Holmer said.

Gray said he was happy to see all his hard work pay off on Saturday.

“I spent majority of my time around the La Fiamma team, setting up for the day. Seeing all of them appreciate how much effort was put into the day and how thankful they were of being able to get back together and see everyone again.”

“The young team was up on the balcony, cheering them on and enjoying watching the old boys in the La Fiamma kit again,” he said.

Attentions then turned to the La Fiamma State Amateur League match against top-of-the-table Perth AFC.

“Obviously a lot of very high spirits in the league team being that we were six games undefeated, one of the biggest games of the season against the top team Perth AFC who haven’t lost a game,” Gray said.

“Having all those veteran players up on the balcony and then the atmosphere that they created was something that a lot of us have never played in.”

La Fiamma were denied in the opening 20 minutes with good saves from the Perth AFC goalkeeper keeping the scores level.

Perth then struck on the counterattack, slicing through La Fiamma’s defence to open the scoring.

On the break of half-time, La Fiamma grabbed an equaliser as Gray scored a deflected free kick 23m out from goal.

A tense second half saw both teams push for a winner as tired legs started to take over towards the end.

The final chance of the game fell to Gray, who was put through on goal and thought he had scored when the Perth keeper pulled off an incredible save, fracturing his ribs in the process and earning his side a valuable point.

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