Footy Kid


Story Details

Little Caleb Crowden is an extraordinary child with an ordinary urge. Like most other eight year olds, he just wants to play football.

When Caleb was born three months premature Donna heard from her doctor, news any parent would dread.

"When he tells me that, Donna, he's not fifty percent chance of surviving the day, I knew we were in big trouble," she tells us.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Donna and Noel were told their youngest son would never be able to walk unaided.

"He's such a fighter," says Donna. "He's had to endure lots of hardships and, because of that, he has a wonderful stamina and personality. Caleb's had a life full of sickness as well as a disability. It's really hard sometimes�you want to take him to the playground and he can't do everything the other children do, and so that takes a lot of getting over in yourself."

Caleb also suffers from asthma, epilepsy and chronic lung disease. What's more, this brave battler has gastro oesophageal reflux disease.

If he eats, food goes through his lungs, not into his stomach, which would put him at huge risk.

Caleb hasn't eaten since birth and he never will.

Every two hours Caleb's fed a formula via a gastric tube. And he's not at all fazed.

Together, the Crowdens could almost make up their own footy team. Caleb is the youngest of ten children, and he has nieces and nephews as well, so he's never short of someone to play with.

And now that Caleb's joined Auskick, the competition's really heating up.

Caleb's strategy?

"When I get the ball, the way I kick is I lean back� just have fun."

And last Saturday was his big debut, under the bright lights in front of 25 thousand footy fans at AAMI Stadium.

And being a mad Port fan, to play during their match was just the icing on the cake.

"To be able to stand there and watch all these Port players around him and acknowledge him must have built up his self esteem so much," proud mum tells us.

His favourite player? Danyle Pearce. Why? Because "he runs fast a lot," says Caleb.

And when we heard that, we thought we'd contact Caleb's hero for a special surprise.

Danyle dropped in by chopper to spend some time kicking the ball around with the kids and to Caleb's delight, a new guernsey.

"Words cannot describe it, it's just incredible," says a teary mum, Donna. "You know, you have this child that's got his disabilities. You see him getting out there having great fun like this I just can't describe it to you."