Photo credit: Elaine Phelan
By: Tash Gunawardana
SOUTH CROYDON is the first sports club in Australia to provide awareness of the condition ‘endometriosis’, which affects one in 10 women in Australia.
The club’s second fundraiser lunch on the topic was held late last month to support Endometriosis Australia’s mission to ‘increase recognition of endometriosis, provide endometriosis education programs and help fund endometriosis research’.
For South Croydon, the afternoon was a success with 66 attending, generating $1600 for the cause.
“We have one of the ladies, Elaine Phelan, involved in the network,” South Croydon president Cathy White said.
Phelan’s son also played for the Dogs and her daughter suffers from endometriosis.
“She (Elaine) is a friend of mine and that’s how we initially got that contact, but now Emma Schafer the Victorian co-ordinator of Endometriosis Australia, she’s been to our club as well a couple of times.
“Through the connection of me knowing Elaine that’s what began the relationship between South Croydon and Endometriosis Australia.”
Endometriosis Australia are a non-for-profit organisation that supports women dealing with endometriosis and to promote the awareness of the condition.
“They have a really good website and we had gynaecologist/obstetrician, Dr Midia Alias who came to speak to us (at our second fundraiser) and she said that’s the only website she recommends for women to go to, to seek advice and information on what it’s really about,” White said.
“They’ve been actively trying to get funding and governments to pay attention and to do more research into it.
“They are probably the most active organisation in Australia around this disease.”
Endometriosis has only just started to receive some airtime with the media and government funding according to White.
“I personally know people, especially girls within our women’s team who suffer from endometriosis and for me when the opportunity to promote that organisation came about last year,” she said.
“We thought it would be really good to promote that to our club and a couple of the other clubs that we were playing against East Ringwood, a club that has become really supportive of it.
“Just to get awareness out there more than anything and in doing that we have raised money for them (Endometriosis Australia) as well.”
Endometriosis does not affect the way girls play football, but if they play when the condition is active, they will suffer additional pain especially after playing the sport.
“A few (players) had surgeries and that has impacted on their time to recover and taken them away from the game,” White said.
“To my knowledge, people are not stopping what they are doing, the messages that came across strongly on the afternoon is that it’s a really good way to help manage endometriosis.
“Another good reason why we should promote it throughout our women’s sport.”
White would love to see a women’s round dedicated to building awareness around endometriosis not only in women’s football but netball as well.
“We had our men also wear yellow armbands, so they all wear them on the Saturday as well as our women on the Sunday and they wore the socks,” she said.
The endometriosis fundraiser and awareness afternoon came about after White told a few of the women footballers at the club that it would be good to do something around this space.
“I think more girls opened up about it and then we thought after one of our games we could, because it was one of our Sunday games and both times, we have done that,” she said.
“Last year it was Blackburn and this year we chose East Ringwood, because last year they even a week later raised money as well to go towards it.
“We thought that was a good alliance to have them support us.”
This year, the women’s team pulled on yellow socks and armbands for their match and White strongly believes all clubs in the League should wear some piece of clothing to build awareness around endometriosis.
Endometriosis Australia’s logo is from the Australian wattle and is reflective of strength and femininity associated with women who live with endometriosis.
“I think the EFL have a real opportunity to be able to help this organisation to get more focus,” she said.
“It’s not something that’s rare, it’s actually really common and the more people speak about it, the more men in women’s lives (will) understand how much it is going to affect women and (how) it’s not normal, the more opportunity we have to promote this awareness to ensure it’s not something that is pushed aside anymore.”