In New Zealand football, the onset of your thirties is no barrier to continuing to play in either the regional or national league. But 33 is an age where most footballers consider hanging up their boots, or the possibility of doing so.
Ben Hall was a talented footballer, a loving son, father and husband, and a good teammate and friend to many more. In April this year, aged 33, at a time of his life when he should of been considering his future path in the game, he passed away from Motor Neurone Disease.
He was diagnosed when he was just 26, the peak of most players careers. Motor Neurone Disease rarely strikes those below 40. What followed was a struggle against a disease for which as yet there is no cure, which he described as the ‘Monster’. Friends and family rallied round to raise money for vital text to speech software that he needed as his powers of speech were stripped from him by illness.
That didn’t prevent him from documenting the changes his life went through, here, as well as the fundraising efforts of his friends and family, and also promoting the many other sufferers of MND who were experiencing many of the struggles he was. It makes for sobering reading.
He leaves behind his wife Leanne and young son Liam, who turns 4 this year.
In his memory, and in order to raise funds for his family, the Running For Ben group has been set up. Anyone can join in, by signing up to a race of any length, running or walking. A group of his friends have signed up for three half marathons in three months, which only demonstrates their deep love for, and determination to do right by, their friend.
Football is more than a game, clubs are families and the community at large is one that cares and looks after its own. His former clubs, Cashmere Technical, Canterbury United, Waitakere United, Bay Olympic and Eastern Suburbs have all paid their respects upon his passing, and many have promoted and are contributing to the cause.
At ITBOTN we’re also getting involved, and I’ll be running the Auckland 5k race at the end of July. Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will be encouraged to donate to the family’s GiveALittle. I’m sure Enzo can also be trusted to get photos of what happens when a seriously unfit Brit attempts to run further than the fridge as well, and provide them for your amusement.
Some things matter more than football, and this is one of them.
Categories: Other Football Topics
John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.