THOUSANDS of people across Melbourne’s West paid tribute to our fallen service men and women last week as Dawn Services were held across the country.
As the sun seeped through the morning sky, crowds descended upon memorial sites to remember those who have given their lives in service of the nation.
They also remembered those who continue to be deployed in different parts of the globe.
It was a time for all – young and old – to remember the Anzac spirit. The Dawn Services were followed by gunshot breakfasts where mates and their families gathered to enjoy a meal and drink together.
Picture: DAMJAN JANEVSKI
HILLSIDE coach Steve Kolyniuk believes his Sharks have caught some of the Essendon District Football League’s Division One contenders off guard so far this season.
Many pundits had written Hillside off prior to the 2014 season after a summer marred by key departures following the heavy investment that landed the 2013 Division Two flag.
So strong were the Sharks in Division Two, it was thought their 2013 squad would have been good enough to win Division One – a view Kolyniuk shares.
Though Hillside’s 2014 list may be watered down, it has started the new season well, pushing pre-season flag favourite Tullamarine all the way in round one before finally overcoming its local nemesis, Taylors Lakes, on Good Friday.
Despite showing promising early signs it is far from the danger of relegation, Kolyniuk has played down Hillside’s early season form.
“We just need to be competitive in every game we play,” Kolyniuk said.
“That’s our goal and we have been in the first two games. We lost the first one and had bad discipline cost us a little bit there but I certainly think we were probably lucky (against Taylors Lakes).
“I think they had a few injuries but look, I’m pleased with the start anyway. But the goal is to be competitive in every game and so far, so good.”
As the Taylors Lakes game was the only one played in Division One on Good Friday, Kolyniuk is fully aware the rest of the competition would have stood up and taken notice of his side.
“With us the advantage we’ve got is we’ve caught a few teams off-guard, but obviously there would have been pretty much everyone there watching last Friday,” he said.
“They would have had a look at some things so it’s not going to be as easy for us over the next five or six weeks.
“We were coming up against Tulla who are a good side and they didn’t really pay much attention to us.
“All of a sudden we nearly beat them so it’s like ‘next time we play Hillside we’ve got to pay them a bit more respect’ and the same with Taylors Lakes, because they hadn’t got to see us yet, either.”
Kolyniuk said he was pleased his Sharks have managed to gain some respect within the division.
“There’s a lot of pride down there,” he said.
“But we’re not getting carried away with it. We’ve got a pretty level-headed group.”
FOLLOWING two successful Once Upon a Time in Sunshine promotions within the past year, Taylors Hill promoter and undefeated professional fighter Jake Ellis is at it again.
Ellis has gathered some of the best fighters from across Melbourne’s West for the 30 May show at Sunshine’s Italia Club, where three titles will be put on the line.
The main events will include Altona’s Anthony Buttigieg’s battle with Franco Valenzuela for the light middleweight Victorian belt.
Footscray’s Sylvia Scharper will also be in action against Queenslander Kori Farr for the Australian bantamweight title, while Werribee’s Marc Pante will vie for the light heavyweight Victorian title against Joe D’Angelo.
“The card speaks for itself,” Ellis said.
“I went from basically not having any titles on any of my shows to having three on the same show and an Australian title being one of them.
“With my main events both boys are undefeated and the vibe in the crowd is going to be electric.
“Pante versus D’Angelo is a fight I’ve been trying to get for about two years now. I just could never seem to get it together.”
Pante, 33, is undefeated with three knockouts since going professional and is feeling good a month out from his upcoming bout with D’Angelo.
“I’m pretty happy with the way I’m going at the moment,” Pante said.
“Training’s going well, so hopefully I can get another victory under my belt and stay undefeated.
“I’m confident going into every fight. I do all the hard yards and it’s the one per cent things I do in the gym that I think will get me over the line against anyone, really.”
Ellis talked up the bout as Pante’s toughest yet.
“I think undeniably it will be Marc’s hardest fight,” Ellis said.
“On paper and in reality it is his hardest fight. It’s a fight for the championship of the state so it goes without saying.
“Size-wise and even overall frame-wise (D’Angelo’s) very similar to Marc, short and broad and he has a very extensive kickboxing career and Marc’s also got a kickboxing background as well.
“It’s the longest fight he’s ever had. He’s in for an eight-rounder.”
Many of the fighters that will take the ring at the Italia Club train under Dave Hegarty out of the Tarneit Boxing Gym, including Dwight ‘The Cowboy’ Ritchie.
THE strong, athletic, attacking half-back flanker has become an essential cog in just about every footy team in the country, no matter the standard or even age group.
Down at the Western Jets, Connor Menadue has made the position his own.
The 17-year-old has enjoyed a dream start to his top-age year in the TAC Cup, opening the season with back-to-back best-on-ground performances against the Calder Cannons and Sandringham Dragons.
In his first four appearances for the season Menadue averaged more than 24 disposals a game and has consistently drawn praise from coach Torin Baker week in, week out.
“We’ve mainly played him off the half-back line, that’s where we think he plays his best footy but he’ll be given opportunities to play through the midfield and even up forward,” Baker said.
“He’s got some tremendous attributes in that he’s extremely quick, he’s also got very good endurance and the other thing is he’s a very good contested mark so when you add all that in it’s a really nice package that he has.”
Menadue himself is happy with how he’s progressed after playing 15 bottom-age games for the Jets in 2013, and hopes his form will warrant selection for Vic Metro later in the year.
“I think I’ve had a pretty good, consistent year so far,” Menadue told Star.
“I’ve been able to beat my man off the half-back flank every week so far, which has been good and I’ve been able to get the ball which has been good as well.”
As a junior down at the Spotswood Football Club Menadue made a name for himself and was plucked from the Woodsmen as a forward, but has since developed into one of the standout running defenders currently going around in the TAC Cup.
Like his coaching staff, Menadue now believes his talents are best suited in the back half of the ground, but naturally, he still fancies himself as a dangerous forward option, too.
“I think that off the half-back flank so far this year I have been able to show my run and carry and run off half-back, and also I’ve been able to find the ball,” he said.
“But I also think if I did start to play more regularly in the midfield I could start to find the ball even more and then hopefully become a bit more dangerous up forward as well and use my speed there.
“And in the forward line, I played there during my junior career so I sort of know my way around the goal.”
AUSTRALIAN Football Hall of Famer Rowan Sawers has decided to give a little back to the game that’s given him everything and taken him all over the globe.
Sawers was earlier this month appointed the Essendon District Football League’s umpires coach in a bid to help boost the appeal at a time many community leagues are struggling for numbers and forced to appoint club umpires for numerous junior and senior fixtures.
“There’s a lot of experience to be gained and not just in football but life skills as well,” Sawers said.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to get into the AFL and get a grand final and to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was just a thrill and something I never even thought of, so footy’s been great.
“It’s taken me around the world and coming to the EDFL gives me the opportunity to put back and with the knowledge I’ve learnt, I really want to put back into junior football.
“I’ve got a real passion to see umpiring grow at every level possible and this gives me an opportunity to put back my knowledge and my experience and hopefully help develop this list (of EDFL umpires) into the best metropolitan list.”
Since taking the new gig Sawers has been on-hand to witness the standard of umpiring within the EDFL ranks and is genuinely impressed, telling Star the standard has been raised significantly at community level in recent years.
“I saw Maribyrnong Park and Avondale Heights and it was a terrific game of football that was well-umpired,” he said.
“There’s lots of things that umpires need to take into account and in the two-umpire system they cover about 13km, they make about 3000 decisions and most of those are not to blow the whistle.
“And certainly from what I saw, I’m really excited to be working with this group and I think it’s just a real opportunity to help develop and help grow and hopefully retain umpires on this panel.”
EDFL general manager Marc Turri said the league is always looking for more umpires in the field, boundary and goals, but was also pleased to say EDFL umpires are among the highest paid in community football.
Turri and Sawers have encouraged people interested in taking up umpiring to contact the league.
RENAE Vojtek is no stranger to battling cancer – and now she wants to help others.
Ms Vojtek, who works at Victoria University’s Footscray Park campus, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, aged 36.
She is currently on holiday in Disneyland with her family to celebrate the end of her treatment.
“I’ve worked at VU now for nearly 14 years, and I had a really good support network here,” she said.
“I came to work right through chemotherapy and radiation and all that sort of stuff, so everybody got on board and supported me.”
She was inspired to launch VU’s first Pink Ribbon Day last year after her colleagues asked what they could do to help her.
That event raised $11,000 for the Cancer Council.
This year, Ms Vojtek wants to go bigger and better – and she needs your help.
VU will host its second annual Pink Day fund-raising event on 2 October and is seeking donations of gifts or vouchers for raffles and auctions, food, non-alcoholic drinks, condiments, cutlery and napkins, pink balloons and decorative items.
All money raised will be donated to BreastWest, a Western Health initiative set up in 2006 to raise money to improve patient care for breast cancer sufferers.
BreastWest will use the money to provide everyday items that women suffering from breast cancer need, such as vouchers for patient transport to medical appointments, new bras for woman who have had a mastectomy and wigs for women who have lost their hair through treatment.
The money will also be used to purchase vital medical equipment and supplies.
If you would like to contribute to the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 9919 4996.
FOOTSCRAY fighter Sylvia Scharper is busy preparing for her upcoming Australian bantamweight title bout against Queensland’s Kori Farr at a time women’s boxing has taken great strides.
The 31-year-old turned professional two years ago after establishing herself in Thai boxing and has since remained undefeated in three fights, winning two and drawing one.
The proud step-mother has to juggle looking after her two step-kids with six days of training a week and once you’ve thrown in her three dogs, two cats, bird and freelance writing gig – Scharper knows a national title would be worth all the effort.
“It’s pretty hard,” she admitted.
“I started in Thai boxing and then I found Dave Hegarty down at Tarneit Boxing to help with my hand-work.
“I never thought I would get to the stage to actually box, let alone pro box and Dave thought I had what it took to jump into pro boxing so I had a very short amateur career of one fight and then went to pro boxing.
“I’ve had quite a few Thai fights and been in the ring a long time but in terms of boxing, this is just the start.”
Scharper takes on Farr as part of Jake Ellis’ third Once Upon a Time in Sunshine promotion at the Italia Club on 30 May.
“She’s got an extensive amateur career and represented Australia in many countries,” Ellis said of Farr.
“She hasn’t got an extensive professional career because I know for a fact she was just planning to stay in the amateurs and she’s pretty much come out of retirement for this fight due to her national title being on the line.”
Scharper is well aware she’s relatively new to the professional circuit but does feel she has improved enough to contend for the belt.
“In the first fights I think just being in the ring and being tough got me through but in the last fight I wanted to show that I could actually box and put combos together and I think I did that so I look forward to stepping it up another level again,” she said.
“I’m always looking to improve and obviously with that belt on the line it makes you that little bit hungrier.”
BRIMBANK born rock band Mystery are gearing up to unveil their feature film and second album to the world.
The band, which is the youngest touring rock band in the world, is made up of teenagers Rocky Ravic, Kris Iaccion, Josh Scarpaci and Tony Mlikota.
Lead vocalist and lead guitarist Rocky said he dreamt of being a rock star and playing on stage ever since he could remember.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was kid,” Rocky said.
“I always wanted to be in a band and do the whole rock star thing and make music.”
His dreams are now coming true and he is doing it alongside his best mates.
“We get up to so much and we play huge shows together and we write music together – it’s a brotherhood,” he said.
The band joined forces when they were only 12 years old and have since never stopped rehearsing and writing and making music together.
“It is fun for us, we wanted to do this and that’s what we did,” Rocky said.
They have since performed worldwide, sharing the stage with bands they idolised growing up and rocking world famous festivals including Ost Fest in Romania and Rocklahoma in the USA.
Their first feature film Mystery: Born to Rock premiered at The Astor Theatre last Thursday night and the movie will now head to France for the international premier at the Cannes Film Festival.
The band will then kick off their third world tour before returning home to get started on their third album.
For more information visit www.mysteryrocks.net
DOMESTIC violence should be called for what it is, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said last week – “violence against women and families”.
Violence against women and children was in the spotlight following the fatal stabbing of mother of four Fiona Warzywoda in Sunshine on Wednesday 16 April.
Over 600 people from across the Western Suburbs and beyond gathered in Sunshine last week to remember the slain Melton West woman and stand against violence towards women and children.
Roads were blocked off as the community rallied together on the corner of Devonshire and Hampshire Roads last Tuesday evening, a week after Ms Warzywoda was allegedly stabbed to death there by her de-facto husband.
Residents, witnesses, police, politicians and the family and friends of Ms Warzywoda and other victims of domestic violence gathered to honour innocent lives lost and send the message that this could not keep happening.
“It’s not just the justice system which failed Fiona and her children and her family, I think’s it’s all of us,” Mr Shorten said.
“Domestic violence has a lot of different moving parts. It’s not just a women’s issue, but it’s a men’s issue,” he said.
“We need a cultural change, we need a resource change, but also the other thing is domestic violence is a national issue, it’s not just a state issue.”
Resident Sophie Dutertre, who initiated the vigil and silent protest, said she didn’t want Ms Warzywoda’s death to only be a news item for a day and then disappear from consciousness after her killer was found.
“I care about community, and I care about Sunshine because it’s a place with a strong, vibrant and passionate community,” Ms Dutertre said.
“I wanted to show that the community can get together and getting together as a community is very powerful,” she said.
Craig McDermott, from Sunshine North, handed himself in to police last Thursday and appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court later that night. He was charged with murder and was remanded until August 7.
“Grief is grief, there’s not a day when it’s better or when it’s worse, the loss doesn’t change. But I spoke to members of her family and having hundreds of people there showing solidarity, I know the family took some strength from that,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
“This is the way Sunshine responds, because Sunshine is a good place. It is a good place to live and when something bad happens this is the way people respond; people stand together,” Greens MP Colleen Hartland.
“We are very good at coming together after these tragedies; we are less good at stopping them from happening in the first place. There were 29 domestic homicides in Victoria last year, so unfortunately this is the latest in a long list of tragedies,” Federal Labor Member for Gellibrand Tim Watts.
“This turn-out is an indication that the community has had enough. Our legal system has to be responsive and take violence against women seriously, we need a royal commission into violence against women which would actually look into where the problems lie and why women are dying, one a week, at the hands of men,” Victoria University lecturer and Sexual assaults Counsellor Margherita Windisch.
“I’m 100 per cent against violence against women and I want to send a message that Sunshine is safe,” Sunshine resident Saliah Ali.
“How many more women and children have to die at the hands of an abuser? How many more women and children have to live in fear every day of their lives?” Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service CEO Annette Gillespie.