Football clubs and their players are judged on a daily basis. Are they performing well enough? Are their players setting a good example to junior level footballers? Is the culture of their club one that breeds success? The sporting media certainly tends to be one that is very criticism-focussed.
But what you don’t often hear of football clubs are the deeds they do to make a difference; the deeds, which see kids like Anden – a Challenge member and tigers fanatic – live out their childhood dreams.
Yesterday, the Richmond FC invited Anden to Punt Road Oval to meet all his AFL heroes and wish them good luck for the big game tonight against the Cats. The Richmond team went above and beyond to provide an experience for Anden that he will now cherish for the rest of his life.
Anden was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, beginning his cancer journey as a grade 6 student and by the time he went back to school, he was starting year 8. That’s two years of his life that went missing; two years of not being able to: kick the footy with his friends, experience the struggles of learning algebra and, more simply, just living the life of any normal teenager.
Additionally, Anden is a very keen sportsman and with his body ravaged by treatment the last two years, this left him missing out on all the sporting moments he so cherished – especially the Richmond Grand Final in 2017.
Though the road has been tough to get to where Anden is today, yesterday was certainly one of its better moments. Welcomed by the team with open arms and excitement, this will forever be a moment that Anden and his family will hold close to their hearts.
When asked who his favourite player was, in a matter of milliseconds, Anden passionately replied, “Dusty!” and it didn’t take long for Dusty to straddle up alongside Anden for the team photo with captain Cotchin on his other side.
All the boys were extraordinarily giving of their time and made Anden feel like he was the most important person on the ground.
Good luck to the Tigers tonight and if they make it to the big dance, Anden will be there come rain, hail or shine!