The Annual Reclink Community Cup

Originally published on Broadsheet.

The event that fuses football and music celebrates its 21st year.

As a child, Peter Cullen was asked by his local parish to gather disadvantaged kids wandering through St Kilda’s backstreets for a game of footy. Over two decades later, the game is one of Melbourne’s most anticipated community events – a friendly tussle between the Rockdogs and the Megahertz.

On Sunday June 21, the Rockdogs – a crop of Melbourne-based band members and musicians – will battle the Megahertz – a combination of radio broadcasters from Triple R and PBS – in a grassroots football match. All proceeds from the game go to Reclink, a national foundation that provides community programs to Australia’s most disadvantaged people.

Rockdogs co-captain Nick Cooper is leading the team for the first time, saying his team is competitive yet “mildly misguided”. “I can barely contain my excitement, for me this is the biggest weekend of the year,” Cooper says.

Opposing co-captain of the Megahertz Cat McGauran says although it is a competition, there is an honorable camaraderie between the two teams. She is inspired by her team’s determination. “Our coaches have turned a bunch of radio nerds into footballers,” she says.

Melbourne’s musos will also be in attendance off the footy field, with performances throughout the day from PearlsAdalitaPaul Kelly & Dan KellyThe Public Opinion Afro Orchestra and Graveyard TrainTex Perkins has also signed up to coach the Rockdogs, who reign as the 2014 Reclink Cup victors.

Reclink CEO John Ballis encourages the public to bring along the Sherrins for a kickabout at half time – while the amateur athletes rejuvenate. Graciously, Ballis sits on the fence when it comes who he barracks for, admiring the motivation of both teams.

The federal government’s $100 million cut to federal art programs has hit Reclink hard. It now relies heavily on the football event for funding. In 2014 the event attracted 10,000 people and raised $100,000.

Reclink continues to house an extensive amount of programs including surfing, wheelchair basketball, tai chi and dancing.

Who will claim the cup for 2015? Head to Elsternwick Park to find out.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children under 16. Gates open and live music kicks off at midday.

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