Finding solace in soccer after death of mum, siblings
HUNDREDS of parents gathered at the Southern Cross University Football Centre in Lismore this week to watch proudly as their daughters participated in the PSSA girls primary schools soccer championships.
Matt Kabealo is one of those parents, supporting his talented daughter Chloe-May as she played for North Coast.
Matt's role as dad for Chloe-May has assumed a greater level of responsibility since a tragedy during the 2017 flood that claimed the lives of Matt's partner Stephanie and Chloe-May's younger siblings, Ella Jane and Jacob.
We share a hope that the support and positive connection through sport and community will provide some solace for Matt and Chloe-May as they try to restore some normality to daily life.
The family has been part of the Tumbulgum community for many years, where the children had played soccer in their formative years.
Chloe-May's exceptional talent is supplemented by her strength of character and maturity beyond her years.
Her selection in the elite group of the best young female players between Port Macquarie and Tweed is a testament to her character.
The rigours of combining the demands of school, sport and family can be a burden for any young person, let alone a child whose world has been impacted so cruelly.
Sport brings inclusion and purpose, evidenced by Chloe May's constant smile when she's with her soccer mates.
On the sidelines as a parent with much on his mind, Matt is not just a soccer dad, as he answered the call to become a referee this season - the mark of a man who gives of himself to make a difference to the game and to the community.
The involvement in sport does not resolve every challenge, but it brings people together and like the Liverpool FC theme resonates: "You'll never walk alone."