A mourning mother says a local soccer match at the weekend will be the perfect way to celebrate the life of her "beautiful boy".
This Saturday's Sebastopol Vikings pre-season match will be like none other, as it honours the life of Simo Mitrovic, who died unexpectedly in May last year, aged just 24.
The family is still waiting for full confirmation on Simo's cause of death, with a delay in the coroner's office caused by COVID-19.
His brothers will play in the inaugural Simo Mitrovic Cup for both Sebastopol and Westgate Sindjelic FC, both of which he played for and loved.
There will be a special pause at the seven-minute mark for a minute of applause - honouring Simo who played as number seven.
"He was a boy who looked after me and his brothers, we could all rely on him, he wanted to help the club and the community, he was a beautiful boy to us," his mother Anita Mitrovic told The Courier.
Simo was a well-loved member of both in his short career, but due to COVID restrictions players have not yet been able to properly grieve his loss and reconnect.
After starting in the juniors with Ballarat City, Simo moved to the Sebastopol Vikings to play senior soccer, with time spent playing for Westgate with one of his brothers before heading back home.
Ms Mitrovic said she was left speechless when she was approached by Vikings coach Corey Smith about the weekend's match.
"It was wonderful news, but in another way it was also sad news," she said.
"I know Simo will be watching us and he will be proud - it will be a hard day, but a good memory."
However, Ms Mitrovic said the family is looking to make the day a positive and celebrate Simo's life.
In May, a GoFundMe was quickly set-up and attracted hundreds of donations and tributes within hours.
"So many people stepped up to help us, or came through the house, there were so many phone calls and messages offering help any time," Ms Mitrovic said.
Mr Smith said the match was going to be meaningful for the entire club, and for Westgate.
"It's our first season without him; it's not a memorial - it's a celebration of his time with us," he said.
"We thought, what did he enjoy the most - playing football and having a beer with his friends afterwards - so we'd like to do this every year so it doesn't get lost."
Being able to play again after their season was interrupted last year will be important, but also for getting Simo's teammates to reconnect will be valuable.
"From a club perspective, it's something we think is important, and that's why sporting clubs exist - to bring people together," Mr Smith said.
"In COVID, a lot of people had community sport taken away from them, and that sense of community spirit and brotherhood that clubs create, so we want to celebrate that as well."
Ms Mitrovic said she hoped the match would become an annual tradition.
"A big thank you to Corey, Vikings, Westgate and the rest of the community who's helping out, and the wider community for helping us."
The match kicks off at 4pm on Saturday at St George's Reserve in Sebastopol.
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