Simon’s Second Family
To the community at Heathmont Football Club, Simon Minson was more than just a teammate.
Right from the start he was the talented on-baller with a special knack for reading the play; the club prankster who would emerge from dumpsters to give his mates a laugh; and the loyal friend who was respected by everyone at his beloved Heathmont Jets.
It’s no wonder that when Simon died due to complications from cystic fibrosis in 2014, the Heathmont community was hit hard.
Simon had been a member of the club since he first pulled on the boots for the Under 12s. His parents Mark and Heather remember feeling slightly horrified when their sports-obsessed son announced he would like to start playing AFL.
“We were thinking, you’ve got to be kidding, of all the sports!” Simon’s dad Mark remembers.
“But we also thought well if he wants to do it then bugger it, we’ll let him do it.”
Simon was a natural. He won the coaches award in his first season and from there would learn to continually evolve and adapt his skills as his opponents grew taller, bigger and stronger than him.
For Simon, the Heathmont Football Club was like a second family.
The Heathmont Jets Football Club is a part of the Good Sports program, an initiative that celebrates the unique role sports clubs can play in nurturing positive and strong communities.
Good Sports clubs operate all across Australia and follow guidelines that encourage a healthier, safer and more inclusive club environment. Simple strategies like ensuring responsible service of alcohol at club-run events and providing healthy food and drink options at the club canteen help to create more family-friendly clubs.
At a Good Sports club everyone can feel comfortable and connected.
When Simon passed away during a trip to Vietnam, the Heathmont Jets community rallied around his family. Without qualifying for travel insurance, Simon’s medical and transport costs totalled in the tens of thousands of dollars. The team at Heathmont immediately got to work, organising a fundraiser that would raise over $100,000 for Simon’s family and Cystic Fibrosis Victoria.
Simon and his family’s experience being a part of the Heathmont Jets community is a telling example of the value of joining a healthy sports club. Sporting clubs foster physical, mental and social wellbeing and exist thanks to the hard work of passionate volunteers.
For people with cystic fibrosis, playing sport has even more health benefits. By exercising and keeping fit, people with cystic fibrosis can lead generally healthier lives with fewer infections.
According to his dad, Simon was “fiercely private” and he never spoke about his illness at the club. Instead, he enjoyed being ‘one of the boys’ and just spending time with his mates.
“Despite not playing much, he would get down to training at every opportunity he could. He loved being down at training… all of the comradery, all of the jokes they played on each other.” Mark remembered.
The Heathmont Jets continue to honour their mate’s legacy by bringing awareness to cystic fibrosis. Since Simon’s death, they’ve raised over $200,000 for the cause.
Get involved in your community by joining a supportive club like Heathmont. With over 7,000 Good Sports clubs across Australia, your local club is likely just around the corner. And no matter what your passion, or talent, everyone is welcome at a Good Sports club.