When seven-year-old James Kenny goes back to Glenbrook Public School next Monday his holiday news will be better than most.
How to explain the all-expenses trip to Melbourne, hanging out with the Swans on AFL Grand Final day at the MCG, participating in the grand final parade and then playing on the hallowed turf moments before the first opening bounce?
At one of the biggest events on the Australian sporting calender, the 2012 AFL Grand Final, James, from the Emu Plains/Glenmore Park Lions lived the sporting dream by marching alongside 21other Auskickers from around Australia as official young representatives of the popular sport.
James had the chance to participate after a season playing at the Lions Auskick centre. Accompanied by his father Wayne, James kicked the weekend off by marching alongside fellow Auskickers and the two competing Toyota AFL Grand Final teams, the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn Hawks, through the streets of Melbourne in the annual grand final parade.
Then it was off to the AFL Auskicker of the Year Awards dinner where he stepped onto the MCG turf for the first time. Geelong captain and Auskick ambassador, Joel Selwood, presented James with his official Auskicker of the Year nominee playing jumper.
But grand final day was the trip’s highlight when James returned to the MCG and played Auskick in front of almost 100,000 avid fans prior to the epic match. James, along with the other nominees presented the Swans players with their premiership medals. The pint-sized Glenbrook player, in voluminous Swans strip, presented the award to star Sydney forward Mitch Morton.
James told the Gazette earlier this year when nominated for the honour he was “excited and nervous”. His mother Amanda adding: “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. We watch the grand final every year and think how awesome would it be to do that”.
In typical seven-year-old fashion James described the event and the atmosphere as “really cool”.
“It was so exciting to play in front of so many people on the MCG, and getting to present a premiership medal with all my friends and family watching on TV was really cool too,” James said.
James’s opportunity came through the Auskicker of the Year competition, which rewards AFL Auskick participants across the country for their teamwork and dedication to the sport. Mum, Amanda, nominated him because he was so enthusiastic about AFL. Every week, 180,000 Australian children and their parents head to one of the 2,800 Auskick centres to play the game.