Touch Tourney raises funds for beloved player

By Ruth Smith

Khan Marshall was out an about at the tournament that was established in his honour.

"I'm definitely overwhelmed.  It's definitely a hard thing to actually come down and see a lot of things done for myself.  It's very emotional," said Marshall.

Often described as a humble man who cares for people, 32 year-old Marshall was a personal trainer and an active member of the touch community before he suffered a gym accident that left him a quadriplegic.

"Last year when our beloved friend and whānau member, Khan Marshall, had a freak gym accident, we really wanted to do something for him, so we just decided that this will be the time that we start this tournament, because Khan, he's part of our touch community and we wanted to do something that he loved and still loves," said Tania David of Charity Touch Tourney who alongside her partner, Rob Whitiora runs the event.

The tournament pulls many teams with this year's participation totalling 24 teams that are split across three grades.  And while competition is definitely one factor that can be seen at the tournament, the familial bonds of the touch community are strongly felt.

"There's definitely a lot of people here that I definitely know.  But there's also people out here that I'm just meeting while I'm driving around and stuff like that.  But it's definitely a big shock to meet a lot of people and also see a lot of people that I haven't seen over the years and they all showed up just for the event.  It's definitely real emotional and I'm real grateful for it," said Marshall.

The tournament is run completely on a voluntary and sponsorship basis, with all income, including that from most stallholders there on the day, going towards Marshall's treatment plan.

"The purpose of this tournament is to raise awareness with what's happened with Khan and also to raise money.  Everyone's keen especially since it's for Khan," said David.

With Marshall's blessing, David and the Charity Touch Tourney are hoping to open up their tournament to support other sporting whānau in need.