More than just GAP ambassadors

By Michael Cowley
August 5 2022 - 1:15am
Ambassadors Harry Garside (left) and Tim Cahill at the opening of the new Greyhounds as Pets facility at Richmond. Photo Chris Pavlich

For Australian football legend Tim Cahill this wasn't about making an appearance, shaking hands with dignitaries, and as such ticking a sponsorship box.

Cahill along with another sporting star, boxer Harry Garside, were attending the opening of the new $11 million, 6.5-hectare Greyhound as Pets (GAP) facility at Richmond in their roles as GAP ambassadors.

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"This is a very personal project. You are seeing a lot more ambassadors come on board, and for me to be the lead of that, and to have Harry and other athletes involved, to help spread the word about the animal, and also become owners, to have their own animal and experience it, that's the most important thing, sharing our stories," said Cahill, who was GAP's first ambassador back in 2019.

"All of us believe in the project which is the most important thing. It's very organic and it's great to be part of the board and be more strategic and be involved in planning. I love the commercial side, but now it's also about the strategic side.

"At the start with Tony [Mestrov, the former CEO] we had a few board meetings and we sat together for a few hours at the time and even during the pandemic we had zoom calls, and we were always trying to push the program as far as we could. To see a lot of politicians here and ambassadors and media, everyone wants to be involved and that for me is nice because it shouldn't be about the ambassadors, it should be about the dogs.

"We can take a bit more of a silent position and watch it grow because you are an ambassador for education.

"My personal point of view was sharing a story. We have to own them, we have to have an experience with them, we have to understand them. It's never easy because you have to earn the respect and earn the trust to explain about the animal and actually be involved in it and a big thank you to Tony for us challenging each other and pushing each other to make sure we could get the support from media and government and also get the support from the public, and that's what we have had."

Cahill adopted a greyhound back in 2019 which now lives with his parents on their property in Byron Bay. Like Cahill, another GAP ambassador, Olympic boxing medal winner Garside, has his own greyhound.

"I know a lot of money has been put into this for the rehoming and the happiness of the dogs, and that's why I wanted to get into the industry to see the full process from when they were pups all the way to the rehoming process," Garside said.

"A lot of people can scream and yell and hate the industry but the only way to ensure the dogs have the best conditions is to be in the industry and that's why I am in it, and seeing the dogs are looked after."

The Richmond opening was also attended by representatives of local councils and numerous members of parliament, including co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends Of Greyhound Racing (PFoGR), Guy Zangari and Nathaniel Smith.

"We are proud co-chairs and to actually see a program that has these beautiful animals going into homes is second to none," Zangari said.

"That's why we back it in and it's one of the largest groups within the parliament, and that speaks volumes to the actual industry and post industry with the Greyhounds as Pets adoption program."

This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.

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