OLD Barbarians Football Club veterans have aimed high with their latest charitable venture this festive season and are calling for residents of the Manning Valley for support.
In view of the fact that many of these elder footballing statesmen are too old to run let alone score goals, they have made a charity group in Cambodia their new target. They plan to use their collective energies to raise money to put as many fresh water wells in the villages surrounding Siem Reap, home to the amazing, World Heritage-listed temples of Angkor Wat, as they possibly can.
"In 2010 our over 35s team toured South-East Asia in an end-of-season trip and in a follow-up trip in 2011 contact was made with a group of local Cambodians who build wells," explained main organiser, Warren Lambert.
"These people we met displayed unbelievable generosity towards us and we have decided to return the favour. We learned from them that for as little as $500, a home in a village can be provided with portable drinking water.
"This makes an enormous difference to the quality of life for these communities, who constantly struggle against water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhus and hepatitis A and E, among other water-related health issues.
"Only 16 per cent of rural Cambodians have access to adequate sanitation and 65 per cent to safe water."
Lambert's plan, so typical of the man, is simple in its complexity.
"We intend to send a team to Cambodia in 2015,'' he said.
"We have a number of people in our club with the know-how to help build these wells and, as a bonus for our football-mad members, we have been promised by our friend and organiser in Siem Reap, Chamnan Chorr, that for each well we help build, the Barbarians can expect a rousing game of football with the grateful, fun-loving and equally football-crazy locals."
Lambert expects that the Manning Valley residents will back the venture. "I don't want to set a target but I am aiming high, as usual. I have discovered over my more than 25 years involvement with the code, that the local football and broader community always recognise and support a good cause.
"Football truly is the world game and has the power to bring diverse groups together. We don't want to miss this opportunity to spread some goodwill and charity to less fortunate parts of the world so we will kick off our fund-raising with weekly raffles in Taree starting in February 2014, and are expecting a generous response."
If all goes to plan, the Barbarian veterans expect to visit Siem Reap in February 2015 to deliver on their pledge.