When Gregor Forrest was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer late in 2019, an idea to raise some funds for family blossomed into a great community event. The 24 hour football match, the first of its kind in Taranaki, was held on the 24th and 25th of January at New Plymouth Rangers to not only fundraise but to raise awareness that cancer can affect anyone.
The charity match was the idea of young footballers Albie Francis-Alles and Cohen Forster who play for Francis Douglas Memorial College. The younger players look up to the players in the first team and they wanted to help out and support him through this. This touching gesture was an easy sell to New Plymouth Rangers, where Gregor also plays his football as part of the Federation Team, who were on board from the start.
A Givealittle page was created, raffles and auction items were sourced and very quickly the organising team needed support to keep up with the enthusiasm of Albie and Cohen. The event itself was a fantastic display of community togetherness with players of all ages, all genders, all abilities and from all different clubs, all playing together. The spirit of inclusiveness was never more evident and it was enjoyable for everyone that was part of the day. Players in attendance swelled from 70 at times down to 4 at 4am in the morning but the most important thing was the game continued. All up over 400 players contributed in the 24 hours and raised a figure that is over $15,000.
Also on show were a range of games to keep people occupied such as juggling comps, target shooting and kick volleyball. A 5 aside tournament for youth also featured on the Saturday morning adjacent to the main game. This was a celebration of the beautiful game of football like no other. Club rivalries were put aside, barefooted children played alongside their parents and friendships were enhanced. Good can come from bad and this was a great example of that. Cancer is really bad and we are all affected by this in some way but the spirit on show during the weekend will be a huge boost to Gregor as he continues his fight, safe in the knowledge he has the whole football community in Taranaki behind him.
New Plymouth Rangers would like to thank all of the following businesses for their support on the day TSB Fitzroy, Merrilands New World, Media Works, Event Cinemas, Deluxe Diner, Arbers Barbers, Cancer Society, NZCT, Naki Bounce, Hirepool, Aggreko Generator Rentals, Rapid Relief, Kats Gelato and Sorbet Icecream, Mad Mex, City Fitness, Whitcoulls, Starbucks, Canterbury, TLC Meats, Central Football, Troy Savage Coaching, Super Cheap Auto Hawera, Central Tyres, Century Batteries, BP New Plymouth