Little Thomas plays in big league

Auskick winner Thomas Akeroyd, from Yaroomba, with Robert Di Pierdomenico. Photo: contributed/Scw1130
Auskick winner Thomas Akeroyd, from Yaroomba, with Robert Di Pierdomenico. Photo: contributed/Scw1130

He had only been playing AFL for a matter of weeks, but Yaroomba’s Thomas Akeroyd got to experience what only few players get to taste – an AFL grand final in Melbourne.

The five-year-old ran out during half-time in front of 100,000 spectators at the MCG to play as part of the 93-member national kids’ Auskick team.

The St Thomas More Prep student was one of the 12 Queensland Auskick players – and the only one from the Sunshine Coast – selected at random to attend the grand final.

Dad David said his son was not sure what winning a berth in the team had meant when he first heard of the win just weeks after starting to play.

“At first Thomas didn’t understand,” he said.

“But as the date got closer he started to sense all the excitement.”

Port Power supporters David and Thomas were flown to Melbourne the Thursday before the big match, with mum Ann-Maree and sister Emily, 3, following later.

The itinerary included a tour of the new National Sports Museum at the MCG, welcome dinner, practice footy run, and leading the final’s players in a street march through the city before the game.

“Dipper (Auskick ambassador Robert Di Pierdomenico) was at the welcome night and was really funny,” David said.

“He had his picture taken with all the kids, who he loves to help.”

So, how did Thomas handle the nerves on the turf on the big day?

“Oh, he is not backwards about coming forwards,” David said.

“His Auskick coach Mal was waiting at the gate to wish him well, which was wonderful.

“He got a few kicks in, which was good to see.

“Thomas loves soccer too but after all this I think the AFL has got the bigger hold.”

 — NAB AFL Auskick is the Australian Football League’s key introductory program for primary school-aged boys and girls and their families. Coolum Auskick is coached by Mal Pearson at St Andrews Anglican College, Peregian Springs, Thursdays and Fridays, 3.10-4.10pm. For details, call 0420 980 517 or 5451 0233.

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