If you were to walk into the Emmaus St Leo’s Football Club for the first time, you’d be pretty unlucky if you didn’t run into at least one of the Davis men. The Davis family, consisting of father Glen, and his three sons, Michael, Harry, and Sam, are dedicated and some of the most passionate people you’ll ever know. Glen is vice-president of the club, and both Michael and Harry are members of the committee, with Harry heading the social committee as well, and all three boys play such pivotal roles on the field during game days and on training nights.

You would only have to spend a few minutes with Emmaus St Leo’s to see that family, blood or not, is quite evidently a huge part of its identity, with the Davis’ being only one of the families who pull on the blue and blue, so it only makes sense that there’s a closer-to-home reason for holding an event such as the upcoming ladies’ luncheon. In early 2015, the Davis’ lost a hugely important member of both their family and the Animals family in Cathy Davis, after a long and brave battle with breast cancer. A fantastic mother and wife, Cathy never got to see all three of her sons take the football field together, despite always being involved in their football careers as a driver and supporter who probably saw her boys play 300+ games collectively, occasionally helping out with canteen duties and social functions. Being involved with the club was huge source of enjoyment for Cathy because of the social side, given that she loved hosting parties and get-togethers and her door was always open for anybody who needed someone to listen. Her sons know that this event would have been right down her alley.

For Sam Davis, the youngest of the three Davis boys, running out in the pink jumpers and playing footy with his brothers on such an emotional day is, for him, one of the most special things he has ever done in his life. He knows that his mum would have loved the ladies’ luncheon event and would be incredibly proud of everyone who has been involved with its organisation. The support that the cause receives from both Emmaus St Leo’s and the broader community as a whole has the Davis family feeling grateful, and it’s something they will hold dear for the rest of their lives. A moment that sticks out for Glen after losing his wife is proudly witnessing Harry decide that he had two options after losing his mum, he could either do nothing or he could actively do something for the breast cancer community. Quite obviously, he picked the latter and Glen could not be prouder of the way everybody has rallied around both his family and the cause.

Cathy’s passing was the main source of inspiration to do good for the breast cancer community, and this event aims to not only honour her, but all those women out there who are unfortunately impacted by this disease. This cause also has a special place in Head Women’s Coach Roy Fenton’s heart, as his partner Kerryn went through the breast cancer battle herself three years ago. After 13 months that were full of surgeries and needles, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she was given the good news that she was all clear. The money raised through the ladies’ luncheon event goes towards providing families with these kind of opportunities for good news and to reduce the number of families who have to deal with the kinds of hardships that surround breast cancer.

2019 marks the fourth year running that Emmaus St Leo’s has turned their annual ladies’ luncheon into a major fundraising event. In its first year, a massive $21,000 was raised for various breast cancer research foundations, with the sum total currently at $56,186. The aim for this year is to boost this to over $70,000 after the ladies’ luncheon event. For the past two years, Emmaus St Leo’s has been partnered directly with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, donating all funds raised directly to their cause. The NBCF funds initiatives to tackle breast cancer research and their ultimate goal is to end all breast cancer deaths by 2030, a feat wholly supported by Emmaus St Leo’s.

The annual ladies’ luncheon is arguably the biggest event on the Emmaus St Leo’s calendar, and that success is largely down to three key factors. The first is the ladies who attend, with the club averaging approximately 140 women yearly. Without this amazing support, the event wouldn’t be what it is today. Secondly is the supporters, as there are over 35 sponsors who donate prizes for the annual silent auction and raffles. Key major sponsors such as Toyota Material Handling, Franklin Landscaping, and A-Team Carpentry have been integral in allowing the club to run out in their pink jumpers each year, and also assist in reaching the fundraising goals. Lastly, it’s the organisers who selflessly dedicate time and energy into ensuring that the event runs as smoothly as possible. Without the collective efforts and combined passion of everybody involved, there would be no ladies’ luncheon. Specifically Harry Davis himself, who works tirelessly every year behind the scenes, and Joden Crothers, who has stood up in the absence of Nathan Baranello, both of which are important members of Emmaus St Leo’s.

Whilst the luncheon is the biggest event on the social calendar, it’s not the only cause important to Emmaus St Leo’s. Just briefly, last year marked the inception of the Emmaus St Leo’s Mental Health Fund, aimed at providing support to both players and the wider community who might be struggling with their mental health. As a small, grassroots club, to be putting so much effort into initiatives that are outside its general jurisdiction speaks to how committed they are to being bigger than just a football club, and how they’re looking to make a huge difference in people’s lives whichever way they can.

If you can’t attend the ladies’ luncheon, but would love to contribute something, the fundraising link is here. Even something small will go a long way to combatting this disease. Camberwell café Goodness Gracious, owned by the mother of beloved Emmaus St Leo’s player Jon Kapiniaris, is again also selling pink yoyos at $10 a pack, with all proceeds going directly to the club’s fundraising efforts. Not only this, but The Posy Story are selling candles and flowers for Mother’s Day and a portion of those sales are going towards Emmaus St Leo’s fundraising goals as well. They are also generously donating 11 table centrepieces for the ladies’ luncheon event which no doubt contributes to its success. Club player Lachlan Chapman, who lost his mum to breast cancer in 2011, is once again participating in the Mother’s Day Classic to honour her and raise money for breast cancer research, with fellow team member Matt Hill joining him. The collective passion for raising money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation that Emmaus St Leo’s facilitates year after year is second to none. It just goes to show how much can be done when you put your mind to it.

This year, it’s expected that 120 guests will be enjoying all that the day has to offer. For the first time ever, the event is being held on Animals ground, with the newly-built, Emmaus St Leo’s clubrooms serving as the venue. From 11:30am-2:30pm, the main function room will house a group of amazing women and supporters while the men’s reserves team take on Manningham out on the field. There will be drinks and laughs, and opportunities to spend a bit of money, and Harry Davis is rightly proud of the way the ladies’ luncheon epitomises everything Cathy Davis was, and could think of no better way to remember his mum.

- Sheridan Harris