Peregian Springs resident and Angelmans Syndrome sufferer Amy Willis, 10 with her family Marie-Louise Willis, Simon Barrett, Ethan Barrett, Ella Willis who were at Sunshine Coast Stadium to meet Canberra Raiders star Iosia Soliala who is an ambassador for Angelmans Syndrome. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Peregian Springs resident and Angelmans Syndrome sufferer Amy Willis, 10 with her family Marie-Louise Willis, Simon Barrett, Ethan Barrett, Ella Willis who were at Sunshine Coast Stadium to meet Canberra Raiders star Iosia Soliala who is an ambassador for Angelmans Syndrome. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

The other side to pro footballers you don't see

OPINION:

MY VIEWS around footballers changed at the weekend.

Instead of the pay scandals and cheating drama, I got to meet some genuine blokes and a family eager to meet them.

I spent some time with Amy's Willis and her family, especially her mum Marie-Louise, who spoke candidly with me about life and how the little things meant so much.

Amy was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome and met one of the passionate advocates and Canberra Raiders player, Iosia Soliola on Saturday. You can read about it here.

Marie-Louise was a single mum for most of Amy's life before meeting her partner, Simon, and found it incredibly hard.

Despite the struggles, she never let those dark days consume her.

As we watched the team finish training, Iosia approached Amy and her family and he gave them more of his time than he was probably allowed.

The genuine generosity and care did not go unnoticed by Amy's family.

I've always been sceptical of the possible media stunt behind exchanges like these but can admit those doubts were squashed on Saturday.

Majority of the team spread out their time with fans, signed calendars and balls, and even gave away their boots and training singlets to the shock of their younger fans.

The looks on the kids' faces were priceless. They were on cloud nine.

Some big names introduced themselves and sparked up conversations about their time training at the Coast.

It was refreshing to see that side of football, especially while the cameras were turned off.


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