05/03/2024

The Booralee Big Bash is back for a second year this Sunday, 4th February, after a successful first event was held in 2023, raising funds for suicide prevention.

WARNING: This article contains references to suicide and self-harm.

This Sunday at Booralee Park in Botany, several local sporting clubs will participate in a charity cricket day to raise awareness and funds for the Gotcha4Life Foundation. The Gotcha4Life Foundation is helping to strengthen more mentally fit communities through programs and preventative mental health campaigns.

Organiser Tony Pengue spoke to The Inner Sanctum about how the event was established, what to expect and how important the community has been in setting up the second Booralee Big Bash. He also wanted to acknowledge the hard work and contribution from co-founder Sharon Marsh, who herself lost her son to suicide.

“To be honest with you, this kind of stuff is really close to my heart. I had a few issues myself when I was in my teens. Since then, I’ve had some people close to me battle it too,” Pengue told The Inner Sanctum.

“It was never really been spoken about when I was younger. Men don’t like talking about this kind of stuff because they feel people look down on them as weak. But these days, it’s okay for me to come out and talk about it.

“I’ve run a couple of functions in the past and then sort of let it go for a while. But I thought last year, we can’t let it go because it (mental health and depression) is getting worse. So I thought, let’s do something about it.

“We’ve got some really good people on board and some great donations. We’ve got a great raffle for Sunday as well, and are planning to raise more than what we did last year.”

Last year’s inaugural event raised over $6000 in funds for Gotcha4Life, which have been used to create vital mental health awareness programs. However, whilst the funds are good, raising awareness and getting people talking about it, particularly men, is more important.

“Not many people out there know how bad this is. It’s become sort of a pandemic; there’s a lot of kids taking their lives these days, and people don’t know about it because people still don’t like talking about it,” he said.

Community support is crucial when it comes to running an event like The Booralee Big Bash. Tony and his crew reached out to the council and local businesses and were overwhelmed by the flood of support they received.

They found many people had been touched by tragedy, from losing a loved one to suicide, and almost everyone knew of somebody currently battling mental health issues and depression.

“Bayside Council have been unbelievable. Christina Curry, Bayside mayor last year, was amazing. I asked for funding last year, and she said I’ll help you, and they have been true to their word. They have largely funded the event again on Sunday. They’ve been unbelievable.”

“We’ve got prizes from IGA Botany, Zia Pina Pizzaria at Mascot, Pagewood Hotel, Kingsgrove Sports, The Souvlaki Shop, Sammis Restaurant Brighton Le Sands, Love Luggage, Sydney Swans and Mascot Jets… all these small businesses have all chipped in and said we’re going to donate to this because we do realise it’s a problem, and we want to help out.”

“The Steak-Out Butchery Jannali will also be cooking all day.”

Rugby league rivals Mascot Jets will face the Botany Rams, while local cricket sides Clovelly, Botany and the Coogee Bay Rebels will also take part in the event. Alongside them will be the Captain Cook Hotel cricket side, Randwick City Saints, Newtown Breakaways and the Pagewood Soccer Club.

“We’re going to establish this as the first Sunday in February so that everyone can put it down in their calendar.”

If people cannot attend the event, they can still easily donate to Gotcha4Life by clicking the link. Another way is by going to the Booralee Big Bash Facebook page.

NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE?

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au

Domestic violence support: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or 1800respect.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Headspace: 1800 650 890 or headspace.org.au

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