Westfield FFA Cup star for Hume City, defender Shane Rexhepi, has raised almost $20,000 for cancer charities after tragically losing his father to the disease.
The defender was spurred into action after the passing of his much-loved Father Zenel in August 2014.
Since then, after setting up his own website sr13appeal.org the 28-year-old has raised almost $20,000 for cancer charities with the help of Hume City and other local clubs.
Speaking on the one-year anniversary of his father’s passing and just hours before Hume faced Melbourne Knights in a PS4 NPL finals clash, the popular club figure admitted it has been a tough year.
Like many players across Australia in the various PS4 NPLs, Rexhepi balances a full-time job together with training three times a week, weekend games and his commitments to a young family (he and his wife have a 17-month-old daughter).
The former Richmond, North Sunshine Eagles and Dandenong Thunder player wakes at 6am daily for work, and returns home most nights around 10pm after training. Then there is his charity work.
Shane Rexhepi (right) lifts the 2012 VPL Grand Final trophy with Dandenong Thunder
The registered builder is a wonderful example to those around him.
“It’s hard. You work all day but as soon as you put your soccer boots on, you get that energy,” Rexhepi tells www.theffacup.com.au
“It’s good to be around good people [in football]. It’s definitely hard not seeing my wife and little daughter and she grows so fast. I feel I’m missing out on her a lot.
“But I do my best whenever I’m not playing football to as spend as much time with them. But my wife supports me and understands how much I love football.
“And joining Hume City last year has been one of the best football decisions I’ve made.”
This Tuesday night Hume and its players will again be in the national spotlight in their FFA Cup Round of 16 clash against Sydney Olympic.
Rexhepi joked that many of his Hume teammates are looking after their appearances since their FFA Cup run thrust them into the media spotlight.
“The boys do look nice and fresh, get their haircuts because they know they’ll be on TV. They make sure they are looking pretty for the occasion," he said with a smile.
“The boys love it. We don’t get these opportunities every day. We just want to keep progressing and hopefully be the first NPL club to win the FFA Cup.”
With fabulous new facilities (said to be at a cost of $12m) Hume is a club on the rise from where it was four years ago. And Rexhepi would love to one day see the club in the A-League.
“It’s too good for the NPL," he said of their Broadmeadows base.
"A-League clubs would love these facilities. It’s somewhere you look forward to training... everything is there for you. It really shows football in this country is growing.
“The FFA Cup has put us on the football map in Australia. Before it was like, ‘Hume City, who are they?’
“We set our minds from day one before pre-season to be successful in the FFA Cup. And for the volunteers at this club, this club is their life.”
Hume’s breathtaking 4-3 win over Brisbane Strikers in the FFA Cup Round of 32 was a stunning affirmation of ambition.
And if Hume win their FFA Cup Round of 16 tie and progress to the quarter finals, Rexhepi will acknowledge his family in the crowd.
He will also say a little word to the skies above, knowing his father will be looking down on him with great pride.
“Raising money for the Cancer Council is a big part of me,” he said, appropriately, on Daffodil Day, the Cancer Council’s fund-raising day across Australia.
“100 percent he’ll be watching from above.”