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Soccer star skin cancer victim warns players of all codes to be cancer aware

David Cervinski playing for Wollongong in 1975. Photo: Andy ZakeliThe harsh n sun presents a challenge to all – but professional sportsmen and sportswomen, whose workplace is often in the open air, are more vulnerable than most to the dangers that exposure to sunlight can present.
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Just ask former NSL star David Cervinski, a title-winning defender with Melbourne Knights and Wollongong Wolves who is now suffering from stage four skin cancer.

“Finding out that you have stage four melanoma and that the worst-case scenario is you have six months to live just shatters you,” says Cervinski. “You look back and you think what could I have done to change it?

“Twenty-five years ago you used to run around with no top on and that is where it has come from. Now if I could  go back and I’d be wearing long sleeved tops, hats and glasses.”

His is a timely warning. Footballers of all codes, cricketers, golfers and any number of athletes run the risk of exposure to skin cancer as a result of their work environment, and sporting bodies are increasingly aware of the need to educate their players and members of the dangers they may face.

The soccer players’ union, Professional Footballers , has taken the initiative in educating its members with the launch of its Kick Out Skin Cancer Campaign, announcing a partnership with leading melanoma detection organisation Molemap.

As a result of the deal the partnership with Molemap will see all of the PFA’s A-League and W-League based members undergo skin cancer checks every season.

PFA chief executive John Didulica  said the tie-in was an important element in the PFA’s attempts to ensure the wellbeing of players during their career and beyond.

“We have all been hugely saddened by the tragic news that National Soccer League Champion David Cervinski is suffering from stage four melanoma,” said Didulica.

“Issues such as this emerging so long after a player’s career has finished highlights the importance of wellbeing initiatives, such as skin cancer checks being a regular part of life for our members and all ns.

“Ensuring football is as safe as possible is an important part of developing the sport and this partnership will assist with this aim,” he said.

Cervinski, who won titles with the Knights and the Wolves in the late 1990s and early 2000s, said he had been overwhelmed by the support he had received from the football community.