Djokovic, Sharapova, join fundraising efforts for Australia bushfires

With the bushfires in Australia destroying land and lives, sportspersons - from across the Australian sporting spectrum - are trying to help.

The raging bushfires, a merciless indication of the consequences of climate change, have crippled Australia. At least 24 people have died since the fires began in September. According to the BBC, over 200 fires are still burning across the country.

With roughly over 15 million hectares of area burnt down, the worst air quality in the world and, according to the World Wildlife Fund, over a billion animals dead, Australia needs assistance and fast action to contain the damages going ahead.

While fires blaze on, a Test series and the first tennis fixture of the calendar among other sporting events scheduled in the country are currently underway.

While showers have brought relief, larger efforts to deal with the consequences of one of the worst bushfires the country has seen are on, with personalities from across sports leading the way.

Aussie Test quartet, BBL stars pitch in with 'bat and ball'

The wildfires came knocking at cricket's door in the country, quite literally. A photograph of a bushfire close to the Perth cricket ground went viral on social media. The players of the national cricket team wasted no time in announcing fundraising initiatives for the areas and people affected by the bushfires.

Chris Lynn was among the first to pledge donations to the Red Cross Bushfire appeal. The explosive batsman, who has had a rewarding run in the shortest formats of the game this season - be it at the T10 League or for Brisbane Heat in the ongoing Big Bash League - announced that he would donate $250 AUD for every six he hits in the BBL. The team also announced that it would donate $250 AUD for every six that comes off Lynn's bat. The 29-year-old's individual donations have reportedly reached $3000 AUD so far.

Melbourne Stars skipper Glenn Maxwell and Hobart Hurricanes' D'Arcy Short joined soon after, pledging $250 AUD for relief operations. Perth Scorchers' Fawad Ahmed will donate $250 for every six and wicket he registers this season. Peter Siddle, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have also pledged $200 AUD per wicket towards helping the country's wildlife under a campaign called Wickets for Wildlife.

Meanwhile, the Australian bowling quartet - Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Nathan Lyon - has pledged $1000 AUD for each wicket each of the bowlers take in the third Test against New Zealand in Sydney. The team will also auction signed shirts from the Boxing Day match, with the proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross foundation.


 

Spin legend Shane Warne also decided to auction his Baggy Green cap to raise funds for the victims.

Warne made the announcement by posting a statement on his twitter handle which said, "The horrific bushfires in Australia have left us all in disbelief. The impact these devastating fires are having on so many people is unthinkable and has touched us all. Lives have been lost, homes have been destroyed and over 500 million animals have died too.

READ | Warne to auction Baggy Green for Australia bushfire victims

"Everyone is in this together and we continue to find ways to contribute and help on a daily basis. This has lead me to auction of my beloved baggy green cap (350) that I wore throughout my test career (when I wasn’t wearing my white floppy hat). I hope my baggy green can raise some significant funds to help all those people that are in desperate need."

Ace strategy

The first major tennis engagement of the year- the Australian Open - is fast approaching. With the wildfires reaching Melbourne, the tournament faces the prospect of a delayed start owing to poor air quality and concern about player safety. The players meanwhile, led by Nick Kyrgios, have been leading a campaign to contribute to rescue and relief operations. Kyrgios tweeted to Tennis Australia asking for a fundraising exhibition game on January 15, a request that has been met positively.

Kyrgios, on his own, then pledged to donate $200 AUD for every ace he hits in tournaments across the summer.

His teammate Alex de Minaur has pledged $250 AUD while John Millman, John Peers and Dylan Alcott each vowed to pitch in $100 AUD for every ace hit during the ongoing ATP Cup. The tournament had declared that $100 AUD will be donated to the Australian Red Cross' relief and recovery efforts for every ace served by players during the competition.

World No.1 Ashleigh Barty announced that she would donate her entire prize money earned at the Brisbane International this week to rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Carolina Pliskova, ranked second in the world and Samantha Stosur have also pledged $200 AUD for each ace served, towards the cause.
 

Also, meanwhile, Novak Djokovic matched Maria Sharapova's donation of $25,000 AUD to help those affected.

 


Riding for relief

New South Wales and Victoria - have faced the worst of the bushfires this summer - also happen to be main racing pockets in the country. The racing community has come out in support of all those involved in rehabilitation efforts. Melbourne Racing Club will donate gate proceeds from the meetings on January 24 and 25 towards Bendigo Bank Community Fund. Fire service personnel and their families have also been given free entry to the races on these dates.

Kangaroo Island Racing Club has volunteered to protect animals affected by fire in the district. The racetrack and stables have been declared safe from the fires and the club has made it available for people seeking a safe space for their livestock.

Jockeys have also declared fundraising initiatives. Tommy Berry and Damien Lane have announced $250 AUD for every winner they ride in January. Jamie Kah pledged to donate double her riding fee and prize-money earned from her rides at the races on January 4th. She ultimately donated $3,200 AUD.

Racing NSW has also announced relief packages and funding options for those affected by the wildfires and for losses incurred due to abandonment of race meetings due to the fires.
 

Standing up for their namesake

The bushfires in Southern Australian have left scores of animals dead and many more injured and displaced. Koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and many other species have been affected in large numbers.

The Australian rugby team, called the Wallabies, have joined the effort to help out. Rugby Australia CE Raelene Castle had announced that Australia's Sevens Teams will hope to rally in money from the 2020 Sydney 7's tournament. Castle said that $500 will be donated for every 'try' scored in the tournament.

Wallaby winger Reece Hodge has also set up a fundraiser, announcing a lucky draw with autographed Rugby World Cup jersey and match boots up for grabs. A donation of $50 AUD means one count in the draw.
 

Football's two dollars worth

Australia's A-League clubs - Victory, City and Western United pledged $2 from every ticket sold in their matches this weekend towards rescue charities. AFL club Richmond F.C's captain Trent Cotchin has announced an auction of a special package, with all proceeds going to fire relief charities. The package includes a signed guernsey, family, family passes to a club photo day and four tickets - plus room passes - to Richmond's clash against Carlton in the first round of the league.

Carlton AFLW star Tayla Harris has also put up the boots she wore in a 2014 women's exhibition game up for grabs - the funds directly leading to the Red Cross.

 

Essendon FC captain Dyson Heppell has taken the fundraising campaigns to new lengths by vowing to shave off his iconic blonde locks in attempt to raise money for the crisis. The skipper with his unique, inspiring move - aims to raise $50,000.

 

Collingwood Football Club midfielder Dayne Beams had also announced his decision to auction his 2010 premiership medal. The auction link saw a raise of $10,000 within hours of the post being made public.

Familial bonds saw a different take as Geelong FC stalwart Gary Ablett set to auctiion off a guernsey jumper along with his father. Brisbane Lions midfielder teamed up with brother Leigh Robinson by wooing online gamers to a 24-hour long gaming event which saw a raise of $15,000 during the weekend.

 

 

Putting it in plain terms

Several golfers complained of poor air quality and visibility during the Australian Open in Sydney in December. A month later, with the situation deteriorating, golfers have joined efforts to support rescue and rehab efforts.

Zach Murray and Matt Griffin have announced a donation of 25 per cent of their prize money earnings from the Blitz Golf Pro Series to the Australian Red Cross Appeal.

 

This race - together

Australia's top motorsport racers are the latest entrants in a long list of Aussie sporting celebrities that have put their hands up in the time of crisis. 2019 Dakar rally champion Toby Price is one of the first to lend his support - set to auction his jersey and trousers from the ongoing 2020 Dakar Rally, the proceeds of which will be donated to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

 

Meanwhile, 24-year-old MotoGP racer John Miller also joined Price, putting his 2018 MotoGP helmet up for auction - directing the proceeds to the NSW Rural Fire Service. On the other side of the Tasman Sea, Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will auction his 2017 racing suit with his helmet. The Kiwi racer also pledged a separate donation matching the amount raised in the auction.