Autistic Boy thrives because of Rugby League and Mateship

Asante was a shy and socially isolated young man whose family anguished over his inability to make friends...their hearts sank as he was always standing near but not a part of kids playing and laughing together... Asante and his mum had a desire for him to follow in the footsteps of his recently deceased dad Sasa, to play the game Sasa loved... rugby league.... it seemed a far off dream...

But sometimes dreams can come true...prayers can be answered...In 2013 an opportunity came for Asante to play alongside his cousin Sam for Sunbury Tigers newly formed U14s side... it was a steep learning curve for this big gentle giant... that first season his team was thrashed by the opposition and the smallest opposition would tackle him to the ground with a thump... and many times you could hear laughter and mutterings from opposition players and the sometimes cruel sidelines...

But at the same time something life changing and special happened... Asante’s teammates would encourage him and support him on and off the field...they would stand with him on and off the field...parents and spectators would make the effort to speak to Asante... slowly things within this young man started to change and he would start to speak...firstly just a word but over the next couple of years he would talk and even begin looking people in the eyes and would start conversations... Asante was feeling a part of the team...He would laugh and muck around with his mates who he had learnt to trust and who had accepted him warts and all.   

They say it takes a village to bring up a child...Rugby League and the good people in this community have made a difference in this young autistic boy’s life.  This big soft timid boy has grown with the love and support of people from his local club. He started as an u14 playing 10 min... Now he has been trusted as the starting Left Side Prop for his u18 side playing 50-60 minutes... In this supportive environment Asante has now been given opportunities to develop character... for example when his seniors were short of numbers to play premiers Casey Warriors Asante did not hesitate to help out... although scared he stood up... and Asante feels he has the full support of the elite Senior management and the players who call him brother.... Asante now trains consistently on his own to improve... he doesn’t want to let his mates down...in the next couple of weeks he wants to give the u20s side a crack... Asante now feels mateship and rugby league has made it a WIN/WIN situation... regardless of the score...

 




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