Sydney Derby to launch Towards Zero Round

Daniel Margush

Rival A-League teams the Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Sydney FC have put their differences aside to join forces to call for safer behaviour on our roads.

In an emotional tribute on the eve of the A-League Sydney Derby, the two sides today staged a powerful image of 297 footballs gathered in a lone goal, each symbolic of a life tragically lost last year on NSW roads.

Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said today’s tribute was part of the NSW Government sponsored Towards Zero Round between the two A-League sides on Saturday at Bankwest Stadium.

“The Towards Zero Round aims to highlight the real value of reaching zero deaths on our roads and why it’s something we all should be working towards. When it comes to deaths on our roads, the only acceptable outcome is zero,” Mr Constance said.

“For every goalkeeper who pulls the gloves on, the only number of goals they want to allow in is zero. When it comes to deaths on our roads, the only acceptable number is the same, zero.”

Executive Director of the Centre for Road Safety Bernard Carlon said the partnership between Transport for NSW and the Wanderers focuses on educating the community about how their actions behind the wheel can impact others.

“Everyone can make a difference with the decisions they make on the road every day – stay under the speed limit, plan ahead, avoid driving tired, put down your phone and always wear your seatbelt,” Mr Carlon said.

“If you’re having a drink, make sure you have a Plan B to get home safely that doesn’t involve getting behind the wheel.”

The Towards Zero match will see both the Wanderers and Sydney FC goalkeepers wear the number ‘0’ on their backs as a powerful symbol of the Towards Zero message.

Four of those 297 lives lost in 2020 were siblings Antony, 13, Angelina, 12 and Sienna Abdallah, eight and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 11, who were tragically killed at Oatlands.

In a touching tribute, the Abdallah and Sakr families presented both goalkeepers with their commemorative ‘0’ jerseys ahead of Saturday’s match.

Mr Constance thanked the Abdallah and Sakr families for their ongoing courage.

“Heartbreaking stories like the Sakr and Abdallah families, serve as a tragic reminder that these fatalities are not just numbers – it’s young people who had the world at their feet, mums and dads who’ll never come home, and football fans lost to their families and club forever,” Mr Constance said.

Western Sydney Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas said the club had a long and proud history with spreading road safety messages both in Western Sydney and across the state. 

“Our players have championed road safety in the community, heard stories from road trauma survivors and will continue to help educate our fans on the importance of road safety,” Mr Tsatsimas said.

Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend said: “The Towards Zero Round is a great example of the shared vision for the type of culture we want to develop across the community and we are proud to be working to help save lives on our roads.”

Mr Carlon said, with the help of the Wanderers and Sydney FC, the NSW Government is working towards bringing road safety, and in particular the slow down message, closer to home.

“So far this year we have seen speed related deaths drop below 40 per cent but speeding still remains the leading cause of death and serious injury on NSW roads,” Mr Carlon said.

“In order to reach our shared goal of driving the road toll Towards Zero every one of us needs to take responsibility for the speed at which we travel when getting behind the wheel.”

The Towards Zero Round between the Western Sydney Wanders and Sydney FC kicks off on Saturday at Bankwest Stadium at 7.10pm.