by Wesley Hull (This story first appeared on www.worldfootynews.com)
What price the smile on the face of a kid with a new footy? Priceless. What price also a kid’s ability to run and chase with purpose with their own brand new ball in their possession? Again, priceless.
But if there is anything as good as that, it is the ability to be there first hand, giving the kid their ball, watching their timid belief that it is now theirs and sitting back knowing that you had just had a hand in something special. That’s not why you get involved, that’s just the by-product – the natural result – of what you just did.
Michael Gallus and his team at Footys4all are very aware of this osmosis: they do this all the time. Our little crew from the Pyramid Power club in Cairns learned it ourselves over the weekend when we undertook a trip to the indigenous communities of Yarrabah, Hope Vale and Wujul Wujul, distributing footballs to kids who may not otherwise receive them.
Footys4all was founded in October 2012. Founder and director, Michael Gallus, had this vision. “Throughout my life experiences in coaching, teaching and fatherhood I have seen firsthand the influence that sport has on its participants. The joy on the faces of the very young when they chase a rolling ball for the first time and the smile of contentment and achievement from a player after scoring his/her first goal are experiences that live for ever in the memory banks of all those involved forever.”
“These experiences are not being replicated across the world by all which is why with the support of the people of the world, the Footys4All Foundation has been created. We aim to extend the Footys4All hand of opportunity and friendship via the distribution of new balls to all those children that are missing out to allow them to experience these feelings many of us take for granted.”
So, the mission of the foundation was “as a not for profit foundation we will supply new sporting balls (footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, etc.) to disadvantaged, disabled and socially displaced children in Australia and the world free of charge.”
My own involvement came about almost by accident when chasing up another lead for ways our club could become more civically involved. Whilst Cairns itself is a reasonably prosperous city in Tropical North Queensland, it is surrounded by towns, locales and communities which do not enjoy many of the basic day to day pleasures that many take for granted. By linking with Footys4all we were able to assist a great cause as well as working directly through the medium of Australian Rules football to try and make a positive impact on the day to day lives of kids linked to our club either as players, or through the wider families and community connections.
Our recent road trip started with a visit to the Yarrabah community, just over 50 kilometres from Cairns. Pyramid Power president, Brett Kennerley, and a couple of junior star players, Josh and Lachlan, headed over to nearby Wungu Beach. They set up the goal posts in the sand for a game with kids from the town. At the end each kid was given a footy of their own, courtesy of Footys4all.
The next day our roadshow headed north through Mareeba, Lakeland Downs and Cooktown to the Hope Vale Aboriginal Community. This settlement is 46 kilometres north west of Cooktown, and very much the heart of Rugby League. North Queensland Cowboys superstar, Matty Bowen, hails from here, as does indigenous leader, lawyer and activist, Noel Pearson.
With the town mayor and family putting on lunch, and driving around town corralling kids, we were able to put on a game of Aussie Rules on the parched Rugby League field. Kids who had never played before ran, chased, kicked, handballed and marked as if this had always been their game. At the end, after a few kids had drifted in and out, we handed out a footy to each of the remaining kids. They thought it was like Christmas…their own footy to keep. Later, we presented the Hope Vale PCYC with a set of footys for their own use.
The following day we headed gradually home, travelling down to the indigenous community of Wujal Wujal, located at the northern end of the infamous Bloomfield Track. Here we presented Rita and Marie at the Wujal Wujal Supermarket with a set of footballs to be used at the local community centre. Most of the kids were out of town at a junior Rugby League carnival in Mareeba. We thought it would be a nice touch for them to arrive back home to a set of Australian Rules footballs.
By the end of the three day sojourn, we had distributed more than 50 footballs to kids across remote North Queensland communities. We had also watched all the fun, laughter and smiles which went with the occasion.
Footys4all is a terrific organisation with a great heart and a great vision. We were so proud and delighted to have had the pleasure to take this journey on their behalf and bring joy to these kids.
To find out more about the Footys4all Foundation, or simply see their collection of ambassadors, go to their website at www.footys4all.com.au/ambassdors/sporting.
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