MUSC Brisbane + Brisbane Paralympic Football Programme
“I came over to Australia from Ireland in 2007 and the biggest thing I missed from home was watching United and going to Old Trafford.”
For Keith White, chairman of the Manchester United Brisbane Supporters’ Club, life on the other side of the planet was difficult as a United fan.
“The kick-off times aren't ideal over here; some are in the middle of the day, some are 2am, 5am in the morning, but you'd be amazed at how many people are willing to come out and support the team at that hour,” Keith said.
“When I arrived I started looking for a local supporters’ club in Brisbane and found there were ones for all our major rivals but there was nothing for United. I got together with a couple of local lads to get a supporters’ club up and running and this year we are celebrating our 10th anniversary.”
When the call came from the Foundation to get involved in the United for the Children campaign, Keith and his branch decided to take on a virtual fundraising challenge.
“At that time we were in complete lockdown so we had to come up with things people could do individually and we thought about a virtual marathon,” Keith explained. “Anyone could do any distance at all, some did 5k, some 2k, and we ended up with over 40km combined. We even got people to donate if they didn’t want to run!
“Over 40 members took part; we had a bit of fun and raised a good bit of money out of it. The only obstacle we had was getting people to prove they’d actually run the distance they said they had! We needed to see screenshots of their running apps!”
The Supporters’ Club in Brisbane decided upon a sporting cause that would benefit from the funds raised from the marathon.
“We always try to choose local charities and ones which really need the money,” Keith said. “Someone in the club nominated the Brisbane Paralympic Football programme. They were really struggling at this time because their whole programme had stopped and they didn’t know when it was going to start again and they rely on donations to keep going.
“They told us that the money we’d raise would keep them going for two years. We decided we wanted to go down and see what they do, so we gatecrashed one of the sessions with a big cheque. It was great to see so many kids of different abilities, all with big smiles on their faces having a great time.“
When talking about the impact that the coronavirus had on the Brisbane supporters club, Ketih said: “At that stage, the whole world was stuck indoors. We had no football, nothing, and this campaign kept the interest and was something United-related. To be able to raise money was a real feel good factor, it was something to raise spirits for everyone. It was also a great way to keep everyone involved and it was nice to hear from the club and be kept in the loop.”
Keith concluded: “I think the club has responded brilliantly to the crisis, keeping all the staff on for a start and not furloughing. Then you look at what Marcus Rashford has done, which is a great source of pride. Just staying connected and getting updated and any sort of contact, United seem to have tried to take this in their stride.
“The best thing about this campaign is that there are so many Supporters’ Clubs around the world but we never do anything together like this. There are a lot of wonderful people running branches, giving up their time, putting on great events and having great nights, and this has brought us all together.”
Find out more about joining the Brisbane Supporters’ Club.
Learn more about the Brisbane Paralympic Football Programme