- It’s Rabbitohs versus Eels on Saturday night at Accor Stadium – NRL Round 16 is Beanie for Brain Cancer Round in support of the Mark Hughes Foundation;
- The MHF has raised $24 million towards research into brain cancer;
- Beanies will be on sale in Sydney Olympic Park precinct and within Accor Stadium;
- All proceeds will go to MHF.
Special Report: Matt Cleary chats with Mark Hughes ahead of Beanie for Brain Cancer Round
It’s a catchphrase of wisdom, of perspective forged in adversity. It’s one Mark Hughes offers as advice for everyone – and not only those who, like him, have been diagnosed with brain cancer, a disease which has no known cure.
And it goes like this: “Get out the good china – today!”
Ask Hughes if he came up with it and he laughs. “Yeah, that’s one of mine! It just means, you know, live for today, make today count. We can’t change the past and we can’t look too far into the future.
“Not every day’s butterflies. You’ve just to make the best of it.
“So get out the good china and do good things every day.”
Hughes is a poster-child for the saying. In 1999 he played in the first ever game at Accor Stadium his Newcastle Knights trounced Manly Sea Eagles 41-7 in front of a world record crowd of 104,583.
Two years later he was NSW fullback in Game II of State of Origin when Darren Lockyer rained bombs on Hughes on a drizzly Sydney night and the Blues beat Queensland 26-8.
And there was the NRL grand final of 2001, the first one played at night, when Andrew Johns and Ben Kennedy led Newcastle to a 30-24 ambush of the Parramatta Eels.
Another truism Hughes holds firm: your life can change very quickly.
In 2013 he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Yet nine years later he’s still here, still smiling and his Mark Hughes Foundation has raised $24 million for research into the disease.
This Saturday night at Accor Stadium, South Sydney Rabbitohs host Parramatta Eels. Beanies will be on sale for $25 in the Olympic Park precinct and within the Stadium.
One hundred per cent of proceeds will go to the MHF. It’s something Hughes is very proud of.
“The Foundation is actually quite a humble operation,” Hughes says. “There’s my wife Kiralee and 2-3 amazing ladies who do all the work. The rest is volunteers. I’m a volunteer.
“We don’t waste a cent. It all goes to the right places. And I think people understand that and appreciate that. It’s something we’re very proud of.”
Hughes says he can’t thank enough people enough.
“This doesn’t happen without the NRL’s Beanie for Brain Cancer Round. The awareness and funds raised have allowed us to tackle brain cancer much quicker than we would’ve hopped. It’s accelerated a lot of things.”
One of those things is the fresh-minted $25 million Mark Hughes Foundation Centre for Brain Cancer Research at the University of Newcastle which will “drive critical research, education, and health care improvements for brain cancer patients, their families and carers, and health professionals,” according to a press release.
The MHF has committed $15 million over five years to establish a dedicated research team and centre.
The Foundation hopes to raise $3 million and sell 175,000 beanies during this year’s Beanie for Brain Cancer Round.
Still with his positive, “good china” hat on, Hughes offers this:
“Sport brings people together, which is a great thing. The result of a game is of course very important. But sometimes it’s not everything.
“I think the way everyone gets behind this round, it’s more than two points on the ladder. The fans get behind it.
“It’s really uplifting to see the support that brain cancer’s getting.”
Click here to buy a beanie and support the Mark Hughes Foundation: beanie.markhughesfoundation.com.au
Click here for match-day information: accorstadium.com.au/whats-on/2022/07/rabbitohs-v-eels