Our local sporting clubs - cricket, soccer, league and little A’s – do more than just provide competitive sport for local kids. Sure there is competition on a weekly basis, and training throughout the week, but the clubs and the volunteers who manage the clubs do a whole lot more for the community, and some very special kids. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting Jellicoe Park to speak to the Pagewood Botany Football Club, where the Premier Kristina Keneally and I are patrons. It was an opportunity to meet some of the parents and say thank you for all their hard work. While there I came across a thank you card on the notice board which read “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Curious I read it, and when I did I couldn’t help but cry. The club officials explained to me that a very sick young boy who sadly has now passed away, came wanting to play football. According to his mum this “special little boy”, found great joy through soccer and his team mates made him feel one of them and nothing else. He came to play each week and even if he could only manage five minutes on the field that was enough to be important for the young boy. For his mum it was important that her special boy was never made to feel any different than any of the other players. The club his mum wrote was “a very special family”.
And that’s probably a good description of our local sporting clubs – families and not just clubs. The local sporting clubs that look after our children are a part of the community and they go far beyond turning out children’s teams for weekly competition. What is the case for this club is I am certain replicated in our other junior sporting clubs in our city we just don’t know about it. They don’t tell … they don’t ask for recognition. When I read about this special young boy and his mums views about what the club had done, I expressed my feelings to the Club President, George Lundy and asked him why he hadn’t said anything. He was surprised I even asked. “That’s just what we do,” was his response.
He, like our other volunteers, may think that that is what their club does but to me, and many like me, it shows that the clubs go beyond sport and become a part of a wider caring community. They may think it’s nothing special – but I do and I know the community would agree.