"Mateship" is an Australian expression that stands for friendship and equality, even in times of great challenge. Mark Smith and Jarryd Haines, two young boys from Sydney, embody this ethos of close friendship. The pair has known each other for most of their lives and always enjoyed playing sport together. If there was a ball involved, they would be in the backyard, acting out a crucial Ashes Test or taking a spectacular mark in the Australian Rules Grand Final for their beloved Sydney Swans.
A few years ago, when Smith was only nine, he was diagnosed with cancer in the brain and spine. It robbed the young boy of many things: his sight, part of his hearing and his ability to play the sports he loves. Throughout the gruelling medical treatment that left Smith nauseous and exhausted, Haines remained with his close friend, sharing their continued love of sport, particularly the Sydney Swans.
Although Smith cannot see anymore, his passion for the Swans has not ebbed. Normally, he listens to streamed radio commentary that complements the roar of the crowd. At the last regular game of the season on 26 August, unfortunately, in the second quarter of the match the stream died. Thankfully, his friend Haines was there to step in with his own unique brand of commentary. Play by play, Haines was bringing the game to life.
“What’s happening, mate?” Smith implored as Buddy Franklin, a towering colossus of a full forward who is considered one of the current greats in Aussie Rules, strutted around the 50-metre line looking for the ball, searching for his tenth goal. "Don’t worry Mark. I’ve got this," replied Haines calmly. "OK. Buddy’s got it. He’s quite far out. Will he go for it? He’s going for it. It’s good and it’s his tenth goal! Buddy is on fire."
When the Swans found out, Smith and Haines were given a hero’s welcome at the players’ entrance of the stadium for a training session. The players stood in a semi-circle before them and clapped loudly when they heard about their friendship. The boys were presented with jerseys and told that in the elimination final against Essendon on 9 September, they would run out on to the pitch with the players before taking their seats with their families in a box that had been laid on by the club.
Smith and Haines embody the ethos of close friendship and their story is one of the nominees for November’s Laureus Best Sporting Moment.
To vote for your favourite nominee, visit myLaureus.com.
Laureus World Sports Awards have been in existence for the last 17 years, with the first Laureus Awards held in 2000. Other than the Laureus Best Sporting Moment, Laureus announces its awards in eight different categories, some of them being: Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year.
Updated Date: Nov 04, 2017 15:41 PM