With a yellow, signed Sherrin under his arm, Tai Martin-Page cracked a smile.
But Tai wasn’t going anywhere – his dashing, skilfull play as a footballer has been halted by an injury which has paralysed him.
Tai was taken to hospital after a collision while playing for Buffaloes in the Northern Territory league earlier this year.
On Monday, he was presented with a football signed by his former Buffaloes team-mates who took part in a fundraising match for him in Darwin on Saturday.
The event raised $52,000 toward his health costs. Southern Flinders assistant coach Joel Palmer handed the football to Tai in hospital in Adelaide.
Tai used to play for Southern Flinders in the Northern Areas Football Association. His mentor Palmer wore his friend’s Buffaloes’ No.19 guernsey in the fundraising match.
Despite the 42C heat during ANZ Bank’s Tai Day at Port Pirie on Friday, Tai’s former Southern Flinders team-mates came out to support their mate and worked together to show their determination and resilience.
The group sold a good number of barbecued sausages and many raffle tickets. They lost count of the number of people who donated money to their Tai tins.
The tins will all be opened and counted when the raffle is drawn on March 1. They will have a full total of all funds raised at the end of the month. The event was marked at 17 bank branches in the north and west. Some of the smaller branches reported that they had good success despite the weather. Ceduna raised $550, Kadina more than $1000 and Port Augusta about $500.
The boys would have loved an alcoholic beverage, but settled for a Zooper Dooper instead.