After battling and beating testicular cancer, local footballer Ryan Stewart has made it his mission to raise awareness for the deadly condition.
During his treatment, Ryan, also known as “Skippy”, says he wanted to stage an event that would prompt men to think about their own testicular health.
So the 33-year-old will stage a charity football match on September 29 at Trafalgar Park, with all funds going to Testicular Cancer NZ.
A number of stars have already signed up to feature in the match.
“At this stage we have announced Paul Ifill, Ben Sigmund, Annalie Longo, Gareth Turnbull, and Paul Hughes,” Ryan says.
Also “90 percent” confirmed to appear are former All Blacks Cory Jane, Piri Weepu, Kiwi comedian Ben Hurley, Anita Maclaren and a handful of Wellington Phoenix players. “If we could get 12-14 famous and sportspeople that would be great.”
Ryan says he and his wife have been getting a warm reaction when inviting players to the event.
“Chelsea has been very busy with emails and Paul with his football connections and his partner Ellie, has been a huge help as well. Everyone seems to be really interested.”
Ryan says they have had sponsors come on board already. Ben Sigmund’s company Ultra Football is donating the kits for the game, Vic Bar is providing alcohol and an after-match function and AR Concrete in Christchurch is donating funds.
“Embroid Me has also come on board for the print which is fantastic, and we are putting the call out to sponsors if they want to be a part of it.”
He says the name of the game is awareness.
“It’s not one of the cancers that is highlighted, there is no screening for it, there is one campaign which is out there for it. I think we just need to raise the profile and events like this can only help.”
Ryan says, because he had a friend go through cancer he had always checked himself regularly but there are a lot of people out there who don’t know about it.
He says it’s about getting men, particular sportsmen, to check themselves.
“With this macho attitude and sportsman who think they can run through walls, but that can soon change.”
Ryan says he hopes to cram as many people as possible into the park on September 29.
“We want people to bring the family down, if you’re interested in football come down and laugh at rugby players trying to play, there will also be a few rugby fans that would like to watch Piri Weepu run after a football.”
Ryan was diagnosed with testicular cancer while playing for Tasman United in 2017. “I found something when I was in the shower, I went for a scan and was told best thing was to get it out.”
He was booked for surgery two weeks later and had the affected testicle removed. Ryan then had two rounds of chemo to kill the cancer completely.
“It wasn’t great, but you’ve just got to do it.”
Ryan had a check-up in May and was given the all clear.
“It’s been great to get back to football and feeling fully fit and back to where I was.”
Anyone willing to contribute to the cause can contact Ryan and Chelsea at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/Get-Ballsy-Football-Charity-Match-193143434659035