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Sports stars pledge help for Queensland flood victims

Australia's Shaun Tait collected money at the Twenty20 game against England
Australia's Shaun Tait collected money at the Twenty20 game against England

A number of leading sports stars from around the globe are donating or raising money to help victims of the Queensland floods in Australia.

Tennis players, including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, will play exhibition matches at Melbourne Park on Sunday.

England cricketer Kevin Pietersen is auctioning an Ashes shirt and bat while Australian spin legend Shane Warne is trying to organise a Twenty20 game.

And seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will donate $50,000.

The American cyclist is in Australia for next week's Tour Down Under.

He said on his Twitter page: "Thoughts go out to everyone in Queensland who've been touched by the recent flooding. Hang in there!"

The first Grand Slam of the tennis season, the Australian Open, also begins next week and world number three Novak Djokovic will be joining Nadal and Federer, the top two ranked players, in the "Rally for Relief" event at the Rod Laver Arena.

Play starts at 0300 GMT, with Belgian Kim Clijsters and Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur also turning out.

Australian Pat Rafter, who along with Stosur is helping organise the event, said: "The plight of the flood victims has struck a chord with the entire tennis fraternity.

"As a Queenslander I am really heartened by the concern and the keenness from our sport to get in and do something to ease the suffering."

Fellow Queenslander Stosur is already donating Aus $100 (£63) for every ace she serves in Australian tournaments this summer.

Former world number one Hewitt added: "As an Australian I cannot help but be touched by such an awful turn of events. It is a disaster on a massive scale.


"If the tennis community can also help play a role in the recovery then we should, both in Australia and internationally.

"I just think at a time like this it is a case of getting all hands on deck."

World number one Nadal echoed those sentiments, adding: "This is a terrible tragedy, not only the loss of life but the destruction of people's homes.

"I am pleased to be able to contribute in some way to help bring it to the attention of the world and raise some money for the victims in the process."

And Federer added: "Along with many of the other players I was moved by the devastation caused by the floods in Australia.

"We just wanted to do something to help aid the recovery because we know there are thousands of Australians who will continue to suffer as a result of this disaster."

Several tennis players held a similar charity event for victims of the Haiti earthquake last year, raising about £120,000.

Australia's cricketers collected around £17,700 in buckets during Wednesday's Twenty20 game against England at Adelaide, while England's players donated a chunk of the match fee from the game.

And Cricket Australia has pledged that the fifth one-day international against England, which is scheduled to be held at Brisbane on Sunday, 30 January will be used as a fundraiser.

Rafael Nadal and Andre Agassi (left) played Pete Sampras and Roger Federer (right)
Tennis raised money for victims of the Haiti earthquake last year

Pietersen is auctioning his Ashes shirt and bat via his website, while Tim Bresnan is also auctioning the shirt he wore during the Ashes which has been signed by the winning England squad.

Meanwhile, Warne announced via his Twitter page that he is attempting to organise a charity Twenty20 match between his XI and a team led by former England captain Michael Vaughan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground featuring former players and celebrities.

Australia all-rounder Shane Watson, whose home town of Ipswich in Queensland has been affected by the floods, said: "Over the past couple of days for me personally it has put things into perspective of exactly what cricket means and what life means with all the devastation.

"I'm going to be joining with Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association to do everything I possibly can to make sure that, for me personally, Ipswich is looked after. It is my home town.

"I'll be getting in contact with the mayor once things subside a little bit and see what I can do."

Everton and Australia midfielder Tim Cahill has put an "experience" up for auction on his website to raise money.

The highest bidder will receive two business class flights from their closest airport to an Everton game with a meal in Cahill's personal box at Goodison Park, a chance to meet the squad and a signed shirt and boots.

"It's something I can do to show my support and hopefully make a difference," Cahill told BBC Radio Merseyside.

Floods across an area the size of Germany and France combined have killed at least 15 people and left thousands homeless.

About 80 people remain missing and officials have warned of further flooding to come with the wet season far from over.

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see also
Queensland rebuilding 'huge task'
13 Jan 11 |  Asia-Pacific
Brisbane flood levels reach peak
13 Jan 11 |  Asia-Pacific

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