GAME ON: Megan Benz decided to bring Boots En Route to Warwick after realising the opportunities footy could give.
GAME ON: Megan Benz decided to bring Boots En Route to Warwick after realising the opportunities footy could give. Tessa Flemming

Warwick kicks off with kind-hearted mission

FOR many kids, kicking around a ball with mates is an every day part of life, but a recent charity that's touched down in Warwick has brought to light why some kids may find it harder to kick off than most.

Boots En Route is a charity program dedicated to donating new and used footy boots, jerseys and joggers to the under-privileged kids of Indigenous shire, Doomadgee.

Six to eight hours away from their neighbouring cities, Doomadgee's isolation means children in the township struggle to get a hold of items most would take for granted, like football shoes, which is why 10-year-old Sunshine Coast boy Bailen Noy decided to step in.

Originally limiting the fundraiser to the Sunshine Coast region, word of Bailen's mission has now spread to the Rose City, in part to the efforts of friend and long-time league lover Megan Benz.

While Mrs Benz had never heard of the shire before getting in contact with Bailen's dad Cahl Noy, she quickly found a way to relate the struggles to her own experiences in Warwick and as a coach for the Eastern Suburbs U14s.

" I know myself there's always footy boots at the end of the season and I've brought them down here (the Eastern Suburbs Oval) before to see if anyone needs them, and I've always given them away so those struggling have got something,” she said.

"At the start of this year, there were a couple of sets of headgear and little footy boots I'd put away and when I gave them to under 7 and under 8 boys, they were so excited to be kitted out in new footy gear.

"When they can turn up with their own (gear) it's like 'oh yes!'. It's their pride and gives them a sense of ownership, of not having to rely on somebody else each week to find gear.”

For Mrs Benz, whose four kids have been involved with the Warwick league community their entire lives, she knew how letting kids play could not only help help them escape their troubles, but also provide a community to rely on.

"It's just a break from everyday life and everyday worries, and gives them a good sense of mateship,” she said.

"They might not necessarily be friends with the other teammates before playing football but once they play football they're great mates. They don't want to disappoint their mates.”

Bailen's proud dad Cahl Noy agreed that it was amazing what sport could accomplish in a rural community.

"Football is an outlet, and for some, it's almost like a religion,” he said.

"It gets them out of bed each morning, and keeps them in school. They can idolise players in the NRL and can relate to the struggle of professional footballers.”

From the Northern Territory to Dalby and now Warwick, Bailen's mission has spread far and wide, leaving Mr Noy both shocked and touched by the dedication of his son.

"I didn't expect it to get anywhere other than the Sunshine Coast, not even the border of Sunshine Coast really,:” he said.

"Our goal was to get 300 boots by March and I think we will get there no worries at all .

"It's humbling, it reassures you that the morals and life skills you instil in children, will come to fruition.”

To donate football gear, including boots to the charity, contact Megan Benz on johnandmeg07@gmail.com or pop in to Danny Lyons Sports Store or Rick Kinlyside at Southern Downs Realty.



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