By Max Davies
Mitchell Rangers Soccer Club welcomed Epping City FC for a friendly match on Sunday to celebrate the volunteer contribution of the De Battista family to the success of both clubs.
For more than 30 years, the De Battista family, headed by Anthony and Sharon, volunteered their time to community sport to ensure that Epping City and eventually Mitchell Rangers flourished in all levels of soccer competition.
General committee member Antony Monteleone, along with his two brothers, played in one of the first junior teams at Epping City in 1997, said the day was about celebrating their service and dedication to community soccer.
“The family we have gathered to pay tribute to have left an indelible mark on the lives of many and have provided opportunities to people that would otherwise be shut,” he said.
“Many of us from both clubs would not be sharing our love of football without the volunteer spirit of the De Battista family.”
In the mid-1990s, Anthony and Sharon were instrumental in the formation of both the RooBall program and the mums’ team at Epping City, known as the ‘Shooters’, who took part in the World Masters Games.
After moving to the Mitchell Shire, the family took their passion for volunteering and soccer with them, as Anthony became the second club president while De Battista family members continued to put their hands up to help coach teams and cement the club as a place for all.
“If it was not for Sharon and Anthony putting their hands up all the way back when the club had no junior teams, many Epping players today would not have many of the life-defining memories that they have,” Monteleone said.
“Many people playing are standing shoulder to shoulder with brothers, sisters and friends whose relationships are in some way defined by the De Battista family and their contributions to Epping City and Mitchell Rangers.”
The match was played by members from the two club’s men’s, women’s and junior’s teams, with the Rangers captained by Kane De Battista and Epping by Ricky Talarico, another family involved in community soccer as a result of the De Battista family.
The friendly match had all players in good spirits, and while the scoreline ended in a three-all tie, it was Epping who came out on top following a penalty shootout.
Money raised on the day through donations were donated in support of women’s football programs in Australia.