Who won the Footy Fever Debate?

A boy is sitting in his wheelchair, holding a football. His parents are on either side, smiling at the camera.

On Friday 12 August, we held our annual Footy Fever Debate! An afternoon full of football antics, fiery debate and heartfelt words on Very Special Kids vital children’s palliative care services.   

With generous support from our community, we have raised an amazing $190,095, helping us to continue providing the best quality of life to children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and tailored support for their families across Victoria. 

Football legends, battled it out on stage to answer the age-old question: would you rather play football today or in the ‘80s?  

The verdict is in, and we can confirm playing football was indeed better in the ‘80s! Congratulations to Jimmy Bartel and Leigh Matthews for their exceptional debating skills and thank you to Matthew Lloyd and David Schwarz for putting up a valiant fight.  

Collage of headshots of four men, they are smiling at the camera.

We were thrilled to receive pledges for 49 nights of respite care, ensuring seriously ill children can continue to receive planned and emergency clinical care when they need it most. 

A big thank you to our MC Heidi Murphy and Mark Allen for hosting a great afternoon, and our musicians Russell Robertson and Phil Ceberano for keeping everyone entertained throughout the afternoon.  

We would also like to extend a thank you to our special guests Noah, Kat and Mark Barlow, for generously sharing their story and journey with Very Special Kids.  

A boy is sitting in his wheelchair. He is reading a speech into a microphone.12-year-old Noah, who has mitochondrial disease, bravely shared his journey – receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. During his speech Noah said, 

“Having Mito is very hard at times, but it is all I have ever known…Very Special Kids is there for the really hard stuff but also some brilliant times, especially the camps. I love meeting other people like me and having fun.” 

His mum Kat shared this sentiment, “Very Special Kids is another light in our darkness. They have walked with us through many of our biggest moments… I can’t tell you how essential it is to have someone who will listen to you vent. Who isn’t shocked, or put off, or want to run away from your experience. Or who will offer you a shoulder to cry on knowing tears are meant to be cried.” 

Special thanks to our presenting partners 3AW and Lowe Living, supporting sponsors Crown, Lion, Vino Society and Helping Hand Group and all in kind supporters. Without your support, the Footy Fever Debate wouldn’t have been possible. 

We would also like to acknowledge our Piggy Bank Appeal partners – ALH Hotels, Commonwealth Bank and 3AW. 

Thank you to everyone involved for a great afternoon. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!