Pink Round is a very special round for Mariners fans. In it’s tenth year, it has raised over $130,000 directly supporting women with cancer on the Central Coast through the Cancer Council.
One of the central figures for the Mariners Pink Round is former Marketing and Communications Manager Carly Carmichael. Carmichael recently stepped away from the Mariners after ten years with the club. Pink Round was one of the first projects she worked on.
“It’s become my little baby,” she said about the round. “It’ll be good to attend this year as a fan and get to experience the game from a different side.”
The round is important to her as the money directly impacts the Central Coast community. The money raised goes not only towards treatments but also towards providing care for those in the community who are impacted by women’s cancers.
“They do different things, they could send someone out to mow someone’s lawn or go and do the grocery shopping for them, or sending a cleaner to their house. All those little services you don’t think about being directly involved with cancer treatment but they’re so important.”
The day focuses on all forms of women’s cancer.
“When it first started, we teamed up with Mingara because they used to do a whole month of fundraising for breast cancer – in particular, Pink Ribbon Day. Over the years it expanded from just breast cancer to all women’s cancer. Brest cancer is talked about so often but what about ovarian cancer, for example? What about cervical cancer?”
“A few years ago, we actually solely focused on skin cancer. One of our former players [Andre Gumprecht] his wife Carina sadly passed away from skin cancer. It’s something that we feel is really important for us to talk about. It’s so much more than football. We have a responsibility to talk about these important things such as health and become role models and ambassadors for people to sit up and listen. To be able to talk about all kinds of women’s cancer it shows how it’s really grown since it started.”
Like anyone, players are impacted by women’s cancers as well. Pink Round is an event that Mariners players have always been extremely supportive of.
“At the end of the game we auction off all of the player worn pink shirts. A few times they have donated other items such as boots, gloves and whatever to be auctioned off as well. Last year we did a piece with Kye Rowles, his mum was battling breast cancer, and they got her involved to do the coin toss and the team photo and all of that. It was quite special.”
“In the past we’ve had a few other players that have had family members affected. Some haven’t been quite ready to talk about it, whereas others have been. Ben Kennedy for example, his Mum passed away from breast cancer when he played for the Jets and he did a fundraiser by shaving his head. He was also very supportive of Pink Round when he joined. We’ve always had the support of players whether they’ve directly donated something or just supported and been a part of it.”
On the pitch, the game against Sydney FC is sure to draw a number of travelling fans and create intrigue of its own. The Mariners will be looking to build on some good results in recent weeks and put a dent in Sydney FC’s finals push.
“We’ve had a couple of good results. I think the boys will keep building that momentum. It’s always a very special game for our players as well. Everyone in some way has been affected by women’s cancers, whether it’s a friend or a family member, so they normally go out there and put so much out there on the pitch to get the result. I don’t think this year will be any different.
“Playing against a side like Sydney FC we are hoping that Sydney are going to bring a lot of fans and get into the spirit as well. If they want to donate that would be fantastic as well because at the end of the day it’s so much more than football.”
Now that the round has been going for ten years, it has a history of its own that is tied to the history of the club. That’s something that Carmichael is extremely proud of.
“We’ve had so many great players at the club. The first year we did it, the first pink jersey we had, you had players like Mile Sterjovski in the jersey. Seeing all the really good players we’ve had over the years in the Pink Round jersey and playing for the cause has been really nice to see.”
This year will be a little bit different as Carmichael will be watching from the stands instead of working on match day. She is most excited to spend the day with her son, like so many Mariners fans get to experience every year.
“I’m going to enjoy being able to take my son. He loves the pink jerseys every year, last year he used to wear his to daycare. He really enjoys the match and will actually follow the game as well. It’s a different experience for me, not better or worse but just a different experience. I actually get to spend it with him instead of working.”
Her favourite memories? The community spirit that the day brings.
“About 3 years ago, they let all the fans on the pitch to have a kickaround and what not. It was just really nice to see because it really summed up the reason why we do it. It’s for the fans, for the community and the fact that they were all out on the field afterwards having a kick around it really nice. There’s a photo or video of my little boy, not even 2 years old running around having the time of his life. That’s always going to be something really special to me.”