IT’S official! The countdown to the Oceania Pan Hellenic Games – Melbourne’s own mini Olympic’s has begun.
At a launch held in the heart of Melbourne’s Greek precinct on August 31, Pan Hellenic Games patron, The Hon. James Merlino, Minister of Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs, Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs began the 86-day countdown to the November Games. To mark the occasion, patron Merlino also announced a $35,000 games funding grant.
The Pan Hellenic Games aims to see about 600 budding sporting champions of Greek descent from all over Australia and New Zealand compete against each other for the three-day event in Melbourne from November 27-29.
The athletes will test their sporting talents in an exciting range of events from basketball to judo, soccer, swimming, tae kwon do, tennis, track and field, water polo and wrestling, for the ultimate prize of securing a place in the World Pan Hellenic Games in Greece.
At the launch Mr Merlino said it was an honour to be patron of Melbourne’s biggest ever Greek festival of sports and culture.
‘‘It’s may seem ironic that an Italian would be patron of Greek Games, but there is no doubt Greece has left an indelible mark on the cultures of the world,’‘ Mr Merlino said.
‘‘And perhaps nowhere is the legacy of the Greek culture so visible as in the world of sport, where the Olympic ideal has, for millennia, pushed human beings to test the boundaries of strength and endurance.
‘‘The Pan Hellenic Games is a continuation of that proud sporting tradition and we are honoured to hold the games here in Melbourne.’‘
SAE Oceania and Far East coordinator George Angelopoulos said Greeks from all eight Australian states and territories were looking forward to seeing the games hosted in Melbourne.
‘‘The Games have enjoyed enormous success in Adelaide and Sydney, and now its the turn of the city of one of the largest Greek populations outside of Greece to showcase a celebration of Greek Australian life and culture.’‘
Mr Angelopoulos named Dimitri Kanellakos as Games co-ordinator, Emanuel Starakis as event manager as well as the all States and NZ 55-member organising committee responsible for putting the games together.
The launch was attended and supported by the Victorian Multicultural Commission’s George Lekakis, Mrs Efi Nikolopoulos representing Greek Consul General Mr Christos Salamanis, Dandenong MP John Pandazopoulos also President of the World Inter-Parliamentary Association of Hellenism (PADEE), members of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV), Knox councillor Joe Cossari and Greek media outlets Radio 3XY, SBS, Neos Kosmos, Ta Nea and The Greek Herald.
Mr Angelopoulos stated: “I would like to thank our major sponsors who have made this event possible: The General Secretariat for Hellenes Abroad, TT Hellenic PostBank, The Victorian Government, The Victorian Multicultural Commission, Bank of Cyprus, The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne & Victoria, the Greek media: Neos Kosmos, Ta Nea, Radio-3XY, The Greek Herald. Also warm thanks to SAE Oceania Council, the Organizing Committee and the many individual and community contributors and numerous volunteers”.
The Games are the brainchild of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) and is sponsored by the Greek government, with the aim of uniting Hellenes the world over through cultural and sporting events.
Registrations for the three -day games have opened.
Any team or individual or team between the ages of 16-30 who is of Greek descent and a permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand can participate .
Applications close October 16.
Forms can be faxed to: (02) 9558 3755 or mailed to SAE, PO Box 21095, Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 8011 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Details: (02) 9558 3744 or www.saeocenia.org.au
Attached are photos from the event