Veterans in training

FOR Lisa Haddow and Josh McDougall, returning to the netball court and football field isn’t about reliving past glories, it’s about helping their local community.

Ms Haddow and Mr McDougall will be competing in the fourth annual over 40s football and netball games at Ararat Alexandra Oval on March 25, organised by Grampians Community Health and the ‘Our Community, Our Families’ Committee.

They will be raising funds for activities supporting people who are struggling to re-engage with their communities after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both in their early 40s, Ms Haddow and Mr McDougall have maintained their fitness over time but they say the games aren’t about winning, they’re about community participation.

Ms Haddow still plays netball with Ararat Eagles and this is her second year in this competition.

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“It’s a great cause and I love that all the funds raised stay locally,” she said.

“It was a really great event last year. There were a lot of people come together who hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Ms Haddow is looking forward to competing. “As we get older, even though we might be past our prime, it’s good fun to be able to get out there and have a crack together,” she said.

“I’m lucky and haven’t had any major injuries so my body is still up for it but, it’s nice in a team to have a nice blend of youth and wisdom. We want to encourage players of all abilities.”

Mr McDougall played in last year’s event but ended his 300-game career with Tatyoon about 6-7 years ago.

“Being a local person, I see the importance of giving something back to the community and that’s why I’ve joined the committee as well,” he said.

“It’s good to have a goal and get a bit of fitness up, but the main focus is having fun and connecting people after COVID. It’s a great opportunity to get people to get out and about and socialising, which is really good for our mental health.”

Mr McDougall, assistant principal at Ararat West Primary School, wants to set a good example with his fitness. “I try to keep reasonably fit. My boys are starting to play and I think it’s important to be able to run around and have a kick with them. That’s one of the goals for me.”

Last year more than $11,000 was raised to establish a carer’s group for parents and grandparents supporting young family members impacted by addiction.

Anyone interested in playing can contact Mark Dohnt on [email protected] or registering on the Trybooking website ‘GCH & Our Communities, Our Families Over 40s F&N’.

The day kicks off at 1.30pm Saturday with a practice match between Ararat Rats and Ballarat Swans reserves teams, followed by a practice match between the seniors teams at 3.30pm.

Then the over 40s action kicks off at 5pm with netball and 6pm for football.

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