Sunbury community unites to support Rizk family

Sunbury wears black armbands. Photo: Justin Whitelock

Sunbury wears black armbands. Photo: Justin Whitelock

IF THE tragedy that has gripped Sunbury has taught us anything, it is that football clubs are so much more than just a place to have a kick on the weekends.

United by grief, the Sunbury Lions came together as a whole on Saturday in an amazing show of support not just for the Rizk family, but for each other.

Tears flowed freely both before and after the game as football took a back seat to the shock of losing two beloved club people, in Albert and Marie Rizk.

In many ways, the result seemed insignificant for Sunbury.

What mattered was supporting a family that has had its soul ripped out.

The club’s show of solidarity reflects just how important football clubs can be.

They are not just places where athletes train twice a week and run around for two hours on a Saturday, they are second families.

And to a broader extent, the Ballarat Football League as a whole came together and offered its support at such a trying time.

Sunbury president Phil Lithgow said every single club president had been in touch with him once hearing of the tragic news, offering their support.

“I had Stephen Bartlett (Melton president) ring and ask if there was anything he could do to help,” Lithgow said with a smile.

“I said, ‘How about you come down and play Redan for us?’’ but they weren’t quite willing to go that far.”

Immediately after the game on Saturday, Redan president Peter Britt and coach Eammon Gill both made a bee-line for the Sunbury rooms to lend support and pay their respects.

Both addressed the club and its supporters and commended the strength they had seen within the club.

There was a time only a few years ago that Redan and Sunbury shared a genuine dislike, almost a hatred, for each other.

Now there is nothing but respect between the two.

Sunbury was relieved to play against Redan on such an emotional day, knowing the appropriate respects and support would be given.

The relationship between the two clubs showed how, in many ways, the result of the match did not matter.

“The way Redan handled the day was great, their professionalism and support made the day a lot easier than it otherwise would have been,” coach Rick Horwood said.

Football can often be seen as the be-all and end-all, but sometimes such a tragedy allows people to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

It was a tough day for Sunbury, to say the least, and the pain is not going to fade away fast.

But football clubs help people through hard times, they come together and stand firm.

Sunbury will get through this adversity and the club will only grow stronger.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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