Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - FEATURE - WORDS : MAT THEW MCIN­ER­NEY

Aus­tralian crick­eter David Warner is never far from the spot­light. Warner, who in 2011 be­came the first player since 1877 to de­but for Aus­tralia be­fore he played a first-class game, has be­come one of Aus­tralian sport’s role mod­els.

Be­hind the burly, broad­shoul­dered frame of the man who burst onto the scene as one of the coun­try’s great­est power hit­ters are two young re­minders that cricket is just a game.

Indi, 1, ( pic­tured) and Ivy, 3, along with his iron­woman wife Candice (nee Fal­zon), helped change Warner’s life for the bet­ter.

It is that ex­pe­ri­ence as a fa­ther, along with lead­er­ship on the cricket pitch, that con­trib­uted to Warner’s role as 2017 Philips Com­mu­nity Sports Dad of the Year Am­bas­sador.

“I’m very hum­bled by it,” the na­tional team’s vice-cap­tain said.

“From my point of view as an ath­lete, it’s al­ways tough to leave the kids be­hind at home with mum and tour around.

“Ev­ery time I get the op­por­tu­nity to be at home or with them I ab­so­lutely en­joy it.

“For me, it’s an honour to win the award and with the guys who have won it be­fore me, I’m in great stead with that com­pany.”

That com­pany in­cludes the likes of Aus­tralian ten­nis player Lley­ton He­witt, AFL su­per­stars Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge, NRL leg­end Cameron Smith and the pre­vi­ous win­ner, North Queens­land Cow­boys cap­tain and fu­ture NRL Im­mor­tal Johnathan Thurston.

De­spite an un­re­lent­ing sched­ule, which this year in­cludes two Tests against Bangladesh — he scored a cen­tury in the first one this week — and eight lim­ited- overs games against In­dia be­fore a home Ashes series, Warner is able to spend his down­time with Indi and Ivy. “It has its mo­ments. It can be quite chal­leng­ing,” Warner said.

“But I’m in a fan­tas­tic po­si­tion where I’m able to have my kids travel with me over­seas.

“I’m very ap­pre­cia­tive Cricket Aus­tralia lets that hap­pen, and we’re a very fam­ily-ori­ented bunch any­way.

“A few of the guys have kids and we ab­so­lutely love it. Ev­ery mo­ment we can share with our fam­ily we try to get them away with us.”

That pre­cious fam­ily time, whether it is at home or at one of Cricket Aus­tralia’s many tour des­ti­na­tions, is usu­ally spent out­doors.

In his role as the Com­mu­nity Sports Dad of the Year Am­bas­sador, Warner ap­pealed to par­ents to en­cour­age chil­dren to spend as much time out­side as pos­si­ble.

That child­hood free­dom, which a young Warner en­joyed in a hous­ing com­mis­sion es­tate, is ben­e­fi­cial to the de­vel­op­ment of a fit and healthy gen­er­a­tion.

“I think the most im­por­tant thing with to­day’s so­ci­ety, and I know with my­self grow­ing up as a per­son who lived be­ing out­doors, is that kids need that stim­u­la­tion, they need that out­door ex­er­cise,” Warner said.

“There’s no rea­son kids couldn’t be out­side play­ing with friends with a soc­cer ball. In this en­vi­ron­ment it can be quite chal­leng­ing, be­cause as a par­ent you don’t want your kids to hang out­side, you want to watch over them. I was for­tu­nate enough to grow up in a lit­tle com­mu­nity in a hous­ing com­mis­sion where we had a park so ev­ery­one could see out there.

“Let your kids be ac­tive and en­joy it. You as a par­ent should try to drive that a bit.”

Warner’s ex­ploits are not lim­ited to the sports field.

The 30-year-old is the au­thor of the chil­dren’s book series the Ka­boom Kid, which he said was a way to fil­ter his ad­vice to kids at an early age.

“I wasn’t very aca­demic as a kid, but you need those ba­sics of lis­ten­ing to the teacher, be­ing to class on time, and earn­ing the right to have that fun and free time,” Warner said. “That’s what this was about. “As a kid, I used to play up and get on de­ten­tion. My teacher would con­fis­cate my bat be­cause I didn’t do my home­work.

“I thought it was a great way to get my mes­sage across to kids, put it into a book and have a story be­hind it.”

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