Dad's special tribute to Matt
HE was the cheeky young man who loved to quote Muhammad Ali and pull faces to go with it.
A protective brother for his younger sister Lauren, he doted on his mum, and as a school student was just beginning to walk tall after understanding physics.
But today Matt Barclay will be remembered as the 14-year-old who galvanised an entire community and brought lifesavers across Australia together as one.
Matt's dad Stephen Barclay wants his son to be remembered not for how he died at the national surf lifesaving titles but how he lived.
Mr Barclay said three things were important to Matt - his schooling at Siena Catholic College, his lifesaving and his family.
Siena is sending busloads of students to join lifesavers from across the Coast in the honour guard at Matt's funeral at Caloundra.
"We find that really moving,'' Mr Barclay told the Sunshine Coast Daily.
Teachers from his primary and secondary schools will give tributes, along with his coaches.
"What we find really inspirational is that Lauren (Matt's 12-year-old sister) has asked to speak,'' Mr Barclay said.
"She really wants to be part of it.''
Mr Barclay said everyone had heard what a promising young lifesaver Matt was. "(Today) is more about hearing what Matt was like as a young man.
"He was a very cheeky young man who could quote Muhammad Ali speeches. He used to love to pull all sorts of faces as he did.
"He just loved some of the words ... he found them inspirational.''
A fiercely loyal friend, Matt had been an average high school student but this year his parents had seen a change.
After starting tutoring in physics, initially against his will, the light started to go on as he began to conquer the difficult subject.
"You could see his shoulders rise and his head lift up as he got it.''
As an emerging ironman, Matt showed his dedication by rising at 4am to train and then continuing after school until dinner time.
While he and his sister had their moments like all siblings, Matt was "very protective'' of Lauren.
"They were very close,'' Mr Barclay said.
He said he wanted today's celebration of Matt's life to be uplifting - and to be filled with laughter - as funny stories were shared about his son.
Even in the moments before he entered his final race last Wednesday, Matt was playing a joke. He asked to look at the iPod of a fellow female competitor on the beach and quickly changed the password before racing off into the surf.
If Matt loved words, he should love the words his father used to describe him yesterday: cheeky, loyal, fun-loving, tenacious, persistent, protective and very loving to his mother Donna.
The Coast has not only lost a lifesaver. It has lost a great young man.