Saturday’s Belt Up Cup Final marks a new chapter for Football West’s showpiece knockout competition.
Both Armadale and Gwelup Croatia, who will meet at Dorrien Gardens, are aiming for a maiden State Cup victory.
And it is the first year of a new partnership with the Insurance Commission of WA, whose Belt Up road safety message adorns the trophy.
Football West spoke to the mother of one young Subiaco player who credits the wearing of seatbelts for saving her family’s life.
It is 15 months since Helga van Schoor and her three children were involved in a road accident that turned their world on its head.
Driving on the Bussell Highway near Capel, their Holden Commodore was hit head-on by a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.
Helga, son Magnus and daughters Priya and Saffron survived the accident, although not without serious cost.
Helga suffered a fractured pelvis and broken ribs. She still needs psychological treatment and regular physiotherapy.
Priya Scott, who was 15 at the time of the crash, fractured her neck, broke a bone in her back and suffered nerve damage in her leg with which she suffers today.
Magnus Scott, then 13, was in the front passenger seat and bore the brunt of the impact. He was in a critical condition, broke bones in his neck and spine and ruptured his small intestine. The Royal Flying Doctor Service took him to hospital in Perth and he, too, still battles with the fallout from the smash.
Both Priya and Magnus were released from hospital in body braces.
Four-year-old Saffron Ferguson escaped serious physical harm thanks to being in a booster seat. But she now has epilepsy which her mother says could have been brought on by the accident.
Yet in spite of the severity of those injuries, Helga acknowledges things could have been far worse.
A picture of the April 2017 accident scene (left) and Magnus with Nebojsa Marinkovic of Perth Glory. Photos supplied
“We’re quite extraordinary, the police cannot figure out how we managed to survive at such high speed,” Helga said.
“I have no doubt that if we were not wearing seatbelts then one or all of us would not be here now. If anyone had gone through the windscreen they would have been dead.
“Apart from the seat belts, I cannot say enough about the importance of children being in their booster seat for as long as possible. Saffron was in a booster seat and she was saved by that booster seat. She sustained really bad seatbelt graze and they thought that her clavicle was broken but not a single bone.”
Incredibly, Magnus resumed his football this season and is playing for Subiaco’s Under 15 team. Helga says his recovery is an ongoing issue.
She added: “Magnus’s confidence has been shaken. He was going places with his soccer and the rug was pulled from under him in such a huge way because he couldn’t play for an entire season. It’s almost like he is trying to play catch-up, he’s desperate to get back to where he was and he’s finding it very, very difficult.”
While recovering in hospital, Subiaco AFC liaison Jenny Palmer arranged for then Perth Glory player Nebojsa Marinkovic to visit him.
“We received the most incredible support from the sporting codes,” Helga added.
“I know Football Federation South West don’t exist any more but they were fantastic. The secretary, Simone, she came with her husband to visit Magnus in hospital and gave him a few presents.
“Jenny (Palmer) came in to hospital with her son. That was very confronting for them because they saw Magnus pretty much at his worst, lying there on the bed, he couldn’t eat and he couldn’t move for seven days … that child became emaciated by the end. He couldn’t eat because of the perforation in his intestine that had to be removed, a portion of it about 5cm, that poor child, I felt so sorry.
“Jenny organised a Glory player to see Magnus in hospital and apparently that had a profound effect … I get very emotional talking about it.
“Magnus does not look very happy (in the picture with Marinkovic) but he was very tired and had been in a body cage.”
All three children attend St Mary MacKillop College in Busselton (Magnus’s father Tim lives in Perth, which is why he plays at Subiaco).
“There are so many people we would like to thank,” Helga added.
“The Royal Flying Doctor Service, they are just incredible. And we got so may bunches of flowers. I didn’t realise how many people loved us but we could have opened up a florist. Again I get very choked up talking about it. Chocolates, we could have opened up a chocolate shop. It was the most touching time.
“And McKillop and Friends, the McKillop Society who help people in need, they were bringing food so that I didn’t have to cook because that was very hard for me at the time because I had a broken hip and broken ribs. We got food sent to the front door and you don’t know who sent it …
“It really was a time of community spirit – a lot of people came to visit Magnus and there were a lot of cards. It was absolutely touching.”
While there is still some way to go for Helga and her family, they have come a long way. Which is why she is endorsing the road safety message … and finds it incredulous that there are people who still won’t belt up.
She added: “I was catching a bus and there was a tall police officer, female, standing next to me and she was hailing down cars and just pulling them over, not arresting anyone or fining them, and just saying ‘Mate, why haven’t you got your seatbelt on?’
“I was like, ‘I cannot believe there are people for whom it was like an everyday thing that they don’t even think about putting on their seatbelt’. Even before the accident the first thing I do is put on a seatbelt … it astounds me the statistics for people who don’t bother putting on their seatbelt. I can’t get my head around that one.”