THOUSANDS of young boys and girls across Australia begin their Aussie Rules careers at Auskick each year.
Some kids play for fun and to have a kick with their friends. For others, it is the first step in their quest to play in the AFL.
While dreams are just beginning for many at Auskick level, Oscar Groves-Berry’s is unfortunately ending.
Oscar has been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a disorder that will eventually confine him to a wheelchair, possibly as soon as next year.
DMD is an incurable neuromuscular condition, which will see Oscar slowly begin to lose the ability to control all of the muscles in his body.
But the deflating news did not stop this brave young boy from having the day of his life and playing the game he loves last Saturday.
Oscar was named captain of the Upper Ferntree Gully Junior Football Club Auskick team and proudly led his teammates out onto Dobsons Park.
As Oscar stepped onto the Kings’ turf, he was met with a guard of honour that rivalled the length of the Flemington Racecourse straight. Young children through to senior members of Upper Ferntree Gully warmly welcomed the star player of the day.
The noise was just as spine-tingling as the sight, as supporters gave him a thunderous round of applause while also shouting, ‘let’s go Oscar, let’s go’!
With arms raised and a big smile on his face, Oscar ran through a specially made banner that read ‘Oscar The Brave’ – a fitting headline for one of the most courageous footy players in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs.
But like all good players, Oscar put the pre-game festivities to one side, knuckled down and let his footy do the talking.
The eight-year-old starred on the Auskick field, booting a whopping seven goals.
‘Awesome,’ he told Clint Stanaway’s Nine News when asked what it was like to kick seven majors for his team.
It was also a magical day for Oscar’s parents, Andrew and Vicki, who were just proud to see their son stroll out onto Dobsons Park for the final time this season.
‘[Footy] is his life and that’s why we’re here today having a bit of fun with him, giving him something really good to enjoy,’ Andrew said.
Mum Vicki added: ‘He lives for football…He normally hangs around the goals, they hand it to him and he kicks the goals.’
Vicki told the Herald Sun that she did not know if Oscar will be able to play footy next season.
‘He’s still on his legs, but we’ve been told to push everything along pretty quickly in the next 12 months to get a wheelchair, renovate the house and get a van,’ she said.
Oscar’s story has captured the hearts and imaginations of the Upper Ferntree Gully community, who have quickly rallied behind him and his family.
In less than 10 days, a foundation had been established to assist the family pay for therapies and equipment, as well as raise awareness for the disease, which affects one in every 3500 boys.
To donate, or for more information on the foundation, head to www.oscarthebrave.org.au, or search for the ‘Oscar The Brave’ Facebook page.