AFL kid’s act of kindness
A simple act of friendship between a blind boy and his caring mate caused a social media storm and melted hearts across the nation
He’s been blind for the past four years after suffering from cancer, but there’s nothing Mark Smith loves more than going to cheer on his beloved Sydney Swans with his best mate Jarryd Haines.
But earlier this year, as the pair sat in the stands and listened to the commentary of the AFL game on Jarryd’s phone, the signal died.
What caring 12-year-old Jarryd did next inspired all who sat around the boys in the chilly stands of the SCG.
“When the radio died, I just decided I’d call the game for Mark myself,” says Jarryd. “I didn’t want him to miss out.”
Those within earshot were gobsmacked by Jarryd’s running commentary, and said he rivalled the game’s professional callers.
“Jarryd was amazing,” says a proud Mark, 13, of his friend. “It was the best commentary I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Swans supporter Jonathan Drennan was so taken by Jarryd’s act of kindness that he shared on social media. “I was sitting nearby,” says Jonathan. “I was with my fiancee and we heard this amazing commentary. It was so good, I had to tweet it.”
The tweet caused a sensation and eventually made its way to the Swans players, who decided to celebrate the special friendship of two of their biggest supporters.
“It just shows the power of social media,” says Jonathan. “And the power of the football community. Everybody got behind the tweet and the next thing we knew, the boys were being given a tour of the SCG and the facilities by the Swans themselves.”
“It’s been amazing,” says an excited Mark. “We met all of the players and I loved going behind the scenes to places like the warm-up rooms. It’s incredible back there. Even though I can’t see the game, it still gives me energy when I hear the crowd roaring.”
A thrilled Mark and Jarryd were also invited as team mascots to the elimination final, where the Swans took on Essendon and smashed them in a rousing victory.
The pair even got to run onto the field with their heroes at the beginning of the match.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Mark, who together with his best mate, will never forget that incredible day.
Best mates Mark (left) and Jarryd were treated to a special day at the SCG. The boys received an applause from the Swans players... ...and met their AFL heroes.