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The Mazenod Panthers last night won the Victorian Government’s Community Sport Award for Diversity at a gala presentation night held at the MCG. 
The Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation, Mr Hugh Delahunty, presented the award to President of the Mazenod Panthers Andrew Sharp as well as a cheque for $3000 to that club that plays in the Football Integration Development Association (FIDA). 
Mazenod Panthers play in the club colours of Mazenod Old Collegians and President of the Premier C club, Steven Paolucci was also present at the event. 
Accepting the award Mr Sharp paid tribute to FIDA and the role it plays in the community. 
“This Award is recognition to FIDA just as much as it is to our club, we are just one of 19 clubs that could have won this award” said Mr Sharp.
Mr Sharp explained the role of the club and FIDA was to provide an opportunity to people with special needs to play football.
“To see a man who joined us eight years ago, and at 39 years of age couldn’t catch a ball, break down crying with joy on playing his 100th game this year at 47 years old is truly inspirational” said Mr Sharp.
Mr Paolucci was unequivocal in his call for more VAFA clubs to follow the lead of Mazenod in providing a linking club for a FIDA team. 
“The benefits are there for our whole club, we have embraced the club and know that they get just as much enjoyment from football as we do.
“Each year we play a match between our U19s and the Panthers and this introduces all our new players to a group of people that they might not otherwise have met” said Mr Paolucci. 
The Victorian Community Sport Awards are in their 16th year and are means for the Victorian Government to celebrate and reward the local sporting community teams and volunteers from around the state that go above and beyond in providing opportunities for the local community to become involved in sport. 
Mr Delahunty presented awards for Best Young and Best Senior Sportsperson of the Year as well as team of the year and local sporting hero of the year.
“This is one of my favourite nights of the year because we pay tribute to grassroots sport and most particularly our volunteers, and we don’t say these two words often enough to the 598,000 sporting volunteers in the state, thank you” said Mr Delahunty. 
Paralympic Gold Medalist Kelly Cartwright was the keynote speaker and she captivated the room with her life story of persistence and hard work. 
Kelly lost one of her legs due to a rare cancer that saw a forced amputation when just 16 years old, but she didn’t let that stop her dreams of running and she achieved her ultimate goal of a Paralympic Gold (and a world record) in the Long Jump at the recent London games. 
Congratulations to the Mazenod Panthers and also to Mazenod Old Collegians for their involvement and association with an inspiring football club.