Victory & Boca lend Chile a hand

Melbourne Victory and Boca Juniors will use their clash on July 16 to raise awareness and money for the work being done for victims of February's Chilean earthquake, with defender Rody Vargas speaking of the effect the natural disaster has had on his own family and Melbourne's Chilean community.

Melbourne Victory and Boca Juniors will use their clash on July 16 to raise awareness and money for the work being done for victims of February's Chilean earthquake, with defender Rody Vargas speaking of the effect the natural disaster has had on his own family and Melbourne's Chilean community.

Together with the Australian Initiative for Chile and the Chilean Consulate in Melbourne, the match involving one of South America's most famous clubs and the most successful team in the Hyundai A-League will be used to not only raise money for victims of the disaster, which killed 521 people and displaced tens of thousands, but also to raise awareness of the work of the Australian Initiative for Chile.

Vargas, who is immensely proud of his Chilean origins, said it was an opportunity for the South American and football communities to come together and help those affected by the earthquake.

"We know the Aussie public are very giving and very generous and for us a club to be able to help in anyway shape or form, is very encouraging. Sport does a lot of things and among those is help underprivileged people and those people affected by disasters," he said.

"I'm proud to be a part of it and for Melbourne Victory to be involved in raising money and awareness. This needs to be an ongoing thing. These things tend to fall out of the media spotlight but if people can come along, it s a way of giving to a country in need."

Vargas said that the Chilean community in Melbourne had worked hard to help out their compatriots and he was happy to do what he could.

"The Chilean community has been fantastic. There's been fundraisers and events ongoing for the last couple of months. They've raised money whichever way possible and I've been fortunate to help with whatever I can, signing a few Victory tops which were raffled. Every cent helps," he said.

"We are privileged to play sport for a living and if we can help raise some funds for people affected, it will be of great value. My family is Chilean, my grandparents, my uncles and cousins were affected, it hit home with me when it happened and to be part of this is exciting."

Melbourne's Consul General of Chile, Diego Velasco, said the match would provide an excellent opportunity to publicise the work of the Australian Initiative for Chile

"It's a fundraising event and awareness campaign for the process of recovery in Chile. It's a long recovery which will take about five years and 30 billion US dollars. This is just one more important step of the process," he said.

"After four months, the earthquake has disappeared from our screens but at this point in time, the recovery is ongoing and Australia is a part of that. We want them to engage fully in this process."

Mr Velasco said the match provided a chance for the wider South American community to continue its work in helping the Chilean community.

"The South American community here has been tight around the Chilean community in the most amazing way and it has spread all over the other communities in Melbourne. It is an event which is good for all of us to be aware, and the unity we have seen has never been seen before."

The Australian Initiative for Chile is a collective of community, religious and corporate organisations brought together to help victims of the earthquake.