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Australian Transplant Games coming to Newcastle!
18 July 2011
I am pleased to announce that Transplant Australia will hold the 13th Australian Transplant Gamesin Newcastle, NSW from September 29 to October 6, 2012.
The reason for choosing these dates is to revert to the system where the Transplant Games are held during the week where the most states are on school holidays*. In the past we have had to vary this due to the Commonwealth Games being held in Melbourne (2008) and the unavailability of the Australian Institute of Sport facilities because a richer sport (the AFL) had booked up the AIS facilities for its draft camp.
The National Office of Transplant Australia is currently holding talks with Newcastle City Council while it is also pleasing that the NSW Government has committed significant funding towards these games. This support will ensure that the Games costs for participants will be kept to a minimum.
The CEO of Transplant Australia has asked me to be the Chair of the Local Advisory Committee for these Games and I have accepted.
For those of you who don’t know me, I received a liver transplant in 1988, and the 2012 Australian Transplant Games will be the 21st different Transplant Games (both in Australia and overseas) in which I have participated. I have also been on the committee to organise multiple Australian Transplant Games and also two World Transplant Games when they were hosted by Australia. Thus, I have seen many of the different versions of the way that the Transplant Games have been held in the past and will use this experience to help ensure that the Games will be run as smoothly as possible and for the enjoyment of all.
If you would like a flavour of the Games you might like to see how our team performed at theWorld Games in Sweden.
For those of you who have never been to a Transplant Games, many of the sports are played against others of similar age groups. There are a variety of children’s age groups. And for adults, the ages are generally competed in ten-year blocks (e.g. 30-39 or 60-69). Some sports like volleyball are open-age competitions. All competitors represent their state, but in order to ensure competition, competitors from different states may be teamed with someone from another state for a doubles competition. All competitors results contribute towards their states tally for the Victor Chang Memorial Shield, and the Donor Family Shield for the most successful state team overall and on average (respectively). Junior competitors represent their state to compete for the Mark Cocks Memorial Juniors Shield.
The Australian Transplant Games demonstrates the quality of life that can be obtained after transplant, but also recognises that this is a family affair. Thus most competitions are aimed at transplant recipients of all types (including tissue recipients). However, we do not forget the supporters, and there are a number of competitions that the supporters and donor families can enter as well. We feel this is especially important for the children - the brothers and sisters especially of transplant recipients and the sons and daughters of transplant recipients, who may otherwise have felt “left out”.
We hold one of the best National Transplant Games in the World, and we frequently have other countries come to compete at our Games, including our near neighbours, New Zealand. The holding of a Transplant Games is a daunting exercise, both logistically and financially. You may have recently read how the body that ran the US Transplant Games has suspended those Games due to financial implications.
To stage the Australian Games we need the help of people to volunteer to take on certain roles. In mid to late July (after the team returns from overseas), it is intended to compile a list of roles and responsibilities that need to be covered and to seek volunteers to fill those roles. Many roles will be able to be filled by “new” people who may have never previously been to a Transplant Games or may feel uneasy about volunteering, but please be assured that you will get the support you need. Each role will be able to seek some guidance from people who have held this role for past events, and everyone will be able to come to me if they feel the need to.
Unfortunately, we do not know the particular skills that every member and supporter may have that will enable you to contribute to the running of the Games. Some of these roles may involve long-term preparations in the lead up towards the Games (such as fundraising support), while others may only be required during the Games themselves (e.g. driving advertising banners from place to place). Indeed, you can contribute even if you are unable to attend the Games in 2012. So please think about how you may be able to help.
We do want these Games to be the most successful ever. Your participation will help ensure that we become an event that the media feels must be covered, and this will lead to greater recognition of the effect that successful transplantation can have, improve the organ donor rate, and to recognise the living donors and donor family members, without whom the Transplant Games will not have been possible.
Please enter the dates for the Transplant Games in your diary, and keep a look out for the call for volunteers (in late July or early August) that will be sent by e-mail and posted on the Transplant Australia website. Or to paraphrase John F. Kennedy – “Ask not what the Australian Transplant Games can do for me, but what can I do for the Australian Transplant Games".
Dr Antony Harding
* For the record, the Spring school holiday dates for 2012 are:
ACT 29/9-14/10; NSW 22/9-7/10; NZ 29/9-14/10; NT 29/9-7/10; QLD 22/9-7/10; SA 22/9-7/10; TAS 8/9-22/9; VIC 22/9-7/10; WA 29/9-14/10. With the exception of Tasmania, all states are on school holidays during the intended week of the Games. One thing to also note that, Monday, October 1, is also a public holiday in NSW (and some other states), which does impact upon our usual schedule.