When first grader Lucas registered for NAB AFL Auskick in 2020, it was unlikely anybody, not even he, could have predicted what was about to unfold.
Months following his registration, Lucas became the winner for AFL Queensland’s ‘Lions in your school’ competition which paved the way for one of the most unforgettable ‘made by Auskick’ moments this year, while also unearthing one of the most surprising footballing stories at the same time.
Lucas was chosen at random as the winner of the competition, which sent three Brisbane Lions players to his school for a visit with him and his classmates.
The visit took place last Tuesday, February 25, inside a classroom at Mango Hills State School, located 40 minutes north of Brisbane’s CBD.
There, Lucas was welcomed by Lions star Lincoln McCarthy, emerging forward Sam Skinner and AFL Women’s up and comer Belle Dawes.
Across the two hours visit, the trio became honorary students of the classroom, playing games and participating in class activities inside before taking part in an Auskick session on the school oval.
As the winner of the competition, the Lion trio’s visit to Lucas’ school was not his only prize either, with Lincoln McCartthy gifting Lucas a Dayne Zorko guernsey signed by the entire 2019 Brisbane Lions squad.
And despite the visit only taking place last week, that same guernsey is already at the local framer and will hang proudly in his bedroom.
Dawes, who has played every game thus far for the undefeated Lions’ AFLW team, said the experience with Lucas and his classmates was extremely worthwhile.
“It was super fun! I forget how exciting and energetic kids are,” she said.
“They were so engaged and just soaked up everything. It made me wish I could go back.”
Despite only in his first proper year of schooling, Lucas has already emerged as a pronounced Auskicker, participating in routine clinics at both Mango Hill SHS and his local club, North Lakes Eels JAFC.
His introduction to Auskick and Australian rules football came as a result of his family, learning about the game as he grew older before his obsession was abundantly evident and he started joining in in club and school Auskick.
But while Lucas has grown up with Australian football throughout his formative years, the same cannot be said for the remainder of his family.
His father, Mike, emigrated to Australia in 2007 from the United Kingdom but instantly found a new passion in Australian football after his friend took him to a Hawthorn game at the MCG.
For Mike, like Lucas, it didn’t take long to become hooked on the sport and the enjoyment from that one Hawks game in the 2008 season meant he was rusted on with the brown and gold faithful.
That devotion to Hawthorn carried through many years but as Lucas got older and more interested in both the sport and the local Brisbane Lions, Mike was soon left with no choice and jumped ship to cheer on the Lions with his son.
Together, the pair have become devout Lions supporters and relished in their extraordinary 2019 season.
Following the event, Mike said Luke and the visit was the talk of the town at school throughout the week.
“Luke had a very special day and it was the talk of the school for the entire week – even resulting in classroom projects,” Mike said.
“I was personally amazed that the Lions attendance was for a total of 90 minutes. I am so impressed with how invested the AFL are in grassroots and the kids. Bravo!”
Yet still, the family’s involvement with the sport doesn’t stop there.
Mike’s business is a sponsor of the North Lakes Eels while his wife also assists around the club as a manager with the junior teams and their younger son Marshall has also signed up and last weekend enjoyed his first Superstars session.
“Luke’s younger brother Marshall also signed up last year and just last weekend attended his very first Superstars session after having to endure watching his older brother each and every weekend last year, being too young to join at the time – he loved it and already has his kit laid out ready for this Saturday,” Mike added.
AFL Queensland Programs Officer – Participation, Caitlin Sippel, said the Lions’ visit was the perfect prize for such a passionate football family.
“They are a fantastic football family and given their background, it’s pleasing to see just how passionate and involved they are in football here in Australia,” Sippel said.
“Honestly, this competition could not have been won by a more deserving family!”
Get your chance to experience moments made by Auskick! Register now to your local club at play.afl/auskick.