MORE than 1500 people soaked up the festival atmosphere at Newtown Park at the weekend when a special Wellington Phoenix XI took on a Chinese club side from Christchurch to raise funds for earthquake relief efforts in China.
Organised by the Chinese club in conjunction with the Wellington City Council and the Phoenix’s Chinese player Leilei Gao, the game was staged to raise money for relief efforts and to raise awareness of the devastation caused by an earthquake and aftershocks in Sichuan province.
Regular Phoenix players Gao, Andrew Durante, Michael Ferrante, Jeremy Christie, Mark Paston and Brazilian Daniel were joined by guest “stars” including The Dominion Post’s football writer Fred Woodcock, radio personalities Daniel McHardy and Andrew Dewhurst, Yellow Fever doyens Michael Greene and Adam Brown and Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata.
The home side showed its class, with big striker Pignata and Greene each scoring twice in the 6-2 win. Gao also netted for the Phoenix (and again for the Chinese side after swapping shirts at halftime), with Ferrante also finding the back of the net.
Gao said the event had been a huge success.
“My Chinese friends and I wanted to do something special to help those people affected by the earthquake at home. I am happy that so many people came to support the cause.”
Proceeds from the event will be handed to Chinese embassy officials and added to the relief fund.