Defibrillators are a must to help number 1 played sport in the country and for all codes

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Defibrillators are close to his heart.

"Defibrillators are a must to help the number 1 played sport in the country (football) and for all codes." A household name and one that is synonymous with football, Andy Paschalidis is fighting hard for defibrillators to be on-hand at all sporting grounds across Australia.

Andy formed the “Heartbeat of Football” charity in 2016 after seeing a player collapse and die on the field in 2014.  This player was a friend and teammate at Forest Rangers over 35s side.  His name was Matt Richardson and there was no defibrillator on that fateful day.

Defibrillator advocate
Andy Paschalidis speaking from the heart

Former Canterbury-Marrickville Olympic player, John Anagnostopoulos also died on the pitch while playing for Belmore Eagles over 45s - a side which boasted the likes of ex-Sydney Olympic FC stars, Peter Katholos and Terry Patalis. Again, no defibrillator was available.

Since then, there have been many cases of players suffering heart attacks during games, just before or straight after.  Recently, however, there seems to be a spike in cases, all of which could have had a happier ending should defibrillators have been accessible, according to Mr Paschalidis.

“Defibrillators are a must at any sports ground as it can be the difference between life or death. The sooner we act, the more chance for survival. And if we act quickly, the cardiac arrest victim can make a full recovery with no permanent brain, heart or muscular damage and can go on living.” Said Mr Paschalidis at the recent Heart Health Awareness Charity Golf Day at Bexley Golf Course last Friday, 13 May.

Football is in their heart
Heartbeat of Football - A charity fighting for your life

“For me, it was the Tony Danaskos story of survival which was the highlight. It was the chance to celebrate his very close escape.” Said Mr Paschalidis.

On April 1, Tony, a fit non-smoker and non-drinker lined up to play the opening game of the season with Connells Point FC in the over 45s side. Lining up with him were seasoned professional players like Norman Tome, George Souris and Pablo Cardozo.

Tony collapsed late in the first half with a cardiac arrest. Thankfully his brother-in-law, teammates and opposing players assisted in the assurance of his survival with effective CPR and the use of the all-important defibrillator before firemen and paramedics arrived.

Rushed to the hospital, Tony began his journey to a full recovery. Tony now has an ICD on his heart for the rest of his life and was cleared by his doctor to play Golf on Friday.

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Tony Danaskos - Recent cardiac arrest survivor with thanks to a defibrillator

Without a defibrillator, you have a 5% chance of survival

“And herein lies the key message - Every sports club, not just football, must have defibrillators and ensure that they are in working order. Effective CPR is just as important because this will give a player at least a 70% chance of survival. Without a defibrillator, it’s about a 5% chance of survival.” Said Mr Paschalidis.

In the last 11 incidents on football fields in Australia, there have been 10 players saved. Sadly, 45yo Andrew Johnston died recently in Maitland while playing All-Age football with his teenage son. No defibrillator was at the ground.

This year three footballers have died. One on the pitch, one driving home and the other died at home, all of which could have been prevented.

Heartbeat of Football promotes healthy hearts in sport

Heartbeat of Football is helping promote healthy hearts in sport via:

  • Awareness: player, participant & community education programs
  • Prevention: minimisation of health risks through simple screening checks
  • Action: "Rescue-ready" defibrillators at all sporting fields around the country, starting in NSW

This year Football St George hosted the Heart Health Awareness Golf Day in support of the Heartbeat of Football Charity. Four of the seven Heartbeat of Football board members are affiliated with Football St George clubs including Mr Paschalidis - a life member of Sans Souci FC who entered a record five teams, with thanks to brothers Chris and Peter Dimitriadis, as well as Billy McColl.

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Irene Hatzipetros - Football St George Chairperson, Niki White - Sam Kerr & Caitlin Foord Manager and Andy Paschalidis

Key VIPs

- Greg O’Rourke - Leagues Commissioner APL

- Tom Sermanni - Western Sydney Wanderers Head of Women’s Football - ex-Matildas Coach

- Irene Hatzipetros - Football St George Chairperson

- Phil Brown - Football St George CEO

- Tony Danaskos - Cardiac Arrest Survivor & his wife Irene

- Niki White - Sam Kerr & Caitlin Foord Manager

- Nick Karagiannis - Crash Claim Accident Management General Manager

- Andrew Head - Deploy Football - Founder/CEO

- Antonio Gelonesi - Piranha Golf Chairman

- Tahir - MC & Award-Winning Comedian


- Piranha Golf (Customised golf clubs for auction)

- Deploy Football (Signed and framed Ander Herrera jersey for Auction bought by ex-Socceroo Pedro Ricoy for $1,000)

- Niki White (Sam Kerr signed jersey & books which went for $1,500)

- Danaskos Family (Donated a defibrillator and training package from Response for Life for the auction. This was bought for $2,500 by Deploy Football who will now donate it to a grassroots club)

- Bexley Golf Club

- The Rustic on Stoney Creek

- Susie Maroney

- Sydney Elite Massage

- The Social Brewers

- Souvlaki Boys (donated six special hampers)

- Waratah Florists

- JB Metro

- Paramount

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Nick Karagiannis - Crash Claim Accident Management General Manager

Mr Nick Karagiannis from Crash Claim Accident Management donated a brand-new Mitsubishi van to the Heartbeat of Football Charity. “This amazing gesture and show of generosity are beyond our dreams.” Said Mr Paschalidis.

No government funding for defibrillators

Currently, there is no government funding, to help with awareness or for mandating of defibrillators at any sports grounds. This is why it is important to get behind this charity and support any way you can. To find out more about how you can become involved or how to help, please visit:

Images by George Karantonis / Image Smart (copyright)