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Dream of playing in the AFL back on track

Nathan Andrews is now one step closer to fulfilling his dream of playing in the AFL, following his successful application for a Redkite and Coles 2019 Dare to Dream Scholarship.

Gold Coast local Nathan Andrews is now one step closer to fulfilling his dream of playing in the Australian Football League following his successful application for a Redkite and Coles 2019 Dare to Dream Scholarship.

The national scholarship, an initiative of leading national cancer support charity Redkite and funded by Coles, awards up to $5000 to young Australians between 15-24 years, to pursue their education, career or life dreams which have been sidelined because of cancer.

The 16-year-old was one of 20 young people around the country to receive a $2000 scholarship in November, which will allow Nathan to attend a USP AFL specific Training Camp as well as a high-performance training camp. 

Nathan, who was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2017, loves football. He plays for the Labrador Tigers and is in the AFL Excellence Program. The Gold Coast Suns Academy recruited him when he was 12-years-old but Nathan was forced out of training in 2018 due to his treatment and was not fit enough to try out for the Suns Academy in the 2019 season.

In 2017, he noticed he was getting weak and tired all the time. “I remember after a game I stood up in the change room and started to walk outside. I got dizzy and my vision went black so I reached out and tried to hold onto a teammate’s jersey. Not long after that I had some blood tests and was called into the hospital that was when I was told I had Leukaemia,” Nathan said.

“My first two questions I asked the doctor was: Can I play footy and will I lose my hair? I wasn’t able to play footy and I lost my hair in August.”

Nathan missed most of the year of school last year due to needing intensive treatment of chemotherapy.

“The treatments had a big effect on me physically, but my love of football has carried me through some of the toughest moments. I remember going to my first training at Labrador in January and only managed to run one lap of the oval. Each session I did a bit more until I was finally able to play.

“All through this, I have kept the dream of reaching the highest level of footy. The Redkite and Coles Dare to Dream Scholarship will help me get back on track to achieve my AFL dream,” Nathan said.

He has already used the funds to help him train and become fitter, faster and stronger with his strength and conditioning coach Joey Hayes, owner of Ultimate Sports Performance (USP). Joey has been graciously sponsoring Nathan since the beginning of the year. 

Now in its seventh year, the Redkite and Coles Dare to Dream Scholarship has awarded 257 scholarships for young people living with the impacts of cancer, with Coles providing nearly $600,000 in scholarship funding. This year, a record of 103 young Australians have received a financial contribution to pursue their dreams. 

Jerry Farrell, Coles Queensland General Manager, said Coles was proud of its long-standing partnership with Redkite and was pleased to continue its support of the scholarship program which gives young people an opportunity to pursue their goals and take control of their future.

“We’re delighted to support inspiring young people like Nathan, in cities and towns across the country, to help young cancer patients and survivors follow their dreams,” Mr Farrell said. 

Nicole Schleicher, Redkite General Manager for National Services, said the 2019 Redkite and Coles Dare to Dream Scholarships will make a positive impact on young lives affected by cancer. 

Generous Coles team members and customers have raised more than $35 million for Redkite since the partnership began in 2013. 

“The hardest part of this treatment is that it continues until 2021. I am still fighting and I will beat this cancer,” Nathan added.

Above Inset Image: Nathan Andrews and physical training coach Joey Hayes
Credit: Gold Coast Bulletin

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