30 May 2023

'The first Aboriginal soccer player to hold up the World Cup': Canberra's Aidan Kelly on the way to his goal

| James Coleman
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Aidan Kelley

Aidan Kelly in action at the Curtin Playing Fields. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Canberra’s Aidan Kelly is just 10 but he’s already on his way to fulfilling a dream he’s held for half his lifetime.

The young Indigenous boy has been selected from more than 1000 of his peers to represent Australia in the Barca Academy Asia Pacific (APAC) Cup in Japan later this year.

The Barca Academy is the official training arm for Football Club Barcelona, with a presence in 34 countries around the world including here in Australia. Each year, tens of thousands of boys and girls participate in various activities hosted by the academies, including international tournaments.

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Aidan is the second oldest of five (with another on the way). His parents Josh and Sharon raised funds for him to attend a Barca Academy soccer camp in Sydney during the April school holidays and are determined to get him to Japan.

“He loves soccer,” Sharon says.

“It (soccer camp) was just to give him a little bit of extra skill, but it turns out they had two opportunities running where they were selecting children to compete in their Cup tournaments, one group to go to Japan and another to Barcelona.”

Aidan started soccer practice with the Woden Valley Soccer Club at the age of five, initially as something to “keep him active”. His skill with a ball soon shone through.

“His coaches and school teachers have said they can tell he’s got something there – he’s very talented,” Sharon says.

His Indigenous heritage comes from his father and has led Aidan to tell his parents “probably three times a week” how he “wants to be the first Aboriginal soccer player to hold up that FIFA World Cup”.

And while the Barca Academy APAC Cup in September may not be the same thing, Aidan will be competing against players from around the world, as an introduction to the competitive international environment. The tournament runs for four days, with players of different ages assigned to different games of 30 minutes each, followed by finals on the last day.

Players are said to be selected based on skills, as well as the values of “humility, effort, ambition, respect and teamwork”.

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Aidan was in bed when the news reached Sharon via email.

“We were jumping up and down at two o’clock in the morning and my husband’s like, ‘Can we please just wake him up?’,” Sharon says.

The next morning they broke it to a subdued reaction.

“We told him and he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s cool’. He’s very humble about it.”

The next step is getting Aidan to Japan, and it’s a challenge his family is rising to with determination.

“We need to raise $15,000 by August. We’re obviously a large family and on a single income, so it’s really difficult for us to just come up with this money to send him on the trip.”

They’re organising a fundraising event from 6:30 pm on Friday, 30 June, and the Canberra Southern Cross Club Woden has already come to the table by donating a room.

“As an Aboriginal child in sports, I think it’s just really important the community gets behind him and helps him reach his dream,” Sharon says.

Contact Sharon Kelly via email at sharon.kelly86@outlook.com. if you would like to donate items as prizes for the fundraising evening. A GoFundMe page is also available online.

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I am a Rabbit™8:49 pm 30 May 23

Is this not the Barcelona soccer academy that asks parents to pay money for these kids to attend the event? It sounds fairly ridiculous – does the industry not provide scholarships to attract young talent anymore, or are these primarily money making schemes?

In case you haven’t been watching football-related news lately, FC Barcelona is flat broke. They’ve even sold naming rights to their stadium to Spotify and are desperately trying to gain euros from wherever they can….including from Canberra parents apparently.

Capital Retro5:57 pm 30 May 23

Given that Australia has no chance of winning the soccer world cup he should lower his sights a little and maybe emulate Archie Thompson’s world record of scoring the most goals ever in a world cup game.

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