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Big Al fulfills dream and shows us what matters

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan

    +2,125 /14
    Big Al fulfills dream and shows us what matters

    8 DEC 11 @ 05:45PM BY PETER PETERS

    YOUNG men with shoulders that could carry railway sleepers and stomachs you could crack eggs on had tears in their eyes.

    NSW State of Origin coach Ricky Stuart looked on in awe and admiration. And Sea Eagles premiership hooker Matt Ballin applauded until his hands were sore.

    Last Saturday - three weeks before Christmas - a few hundred gathered at the Sydney Academy of Sport at Narrabeen to watch males of all ages play out lifelong dreams on the football field.

    Two were yet to make double digits in terms of years on this planet while others were in their early 40s. But most struggle with some sort of disability.

    For one, ever-smiling 18-year-old, the simple act of pulling on a shining pair of Jarryd Hayne-like blue boots was an achievement.

    To catch a football and feel the thrill of charging into the opposition defence was enough to have him feel as though he had conquered Everest.

    All of Alex Ma’s last six years have been consumed by the hope that one day he could play the game he has grown to love.

    A chance meeting at a Sea Eagles training session as a tubby 12-year-old in 2006 ignited something inside this special young man.

    He struggled to get out of his wheelchair, had no real interest in life outside of his caring family and no mountains to climb. At birth in Sydney, Alex’s parents, Louise and Max Ma, were told by doctors that their son would never walk or talk because of severe cerebral palsy.

    At age five, Alex was taken to Max’s homeland in China where, after lots of massaging and treatment using ancient herbal medicine methods, he started to show slight signs of improvement.

    He attended schools in China and Newport on the northern beaches.

    Today he is a demon chess player and speaks three languages, swims daily at the Ian Thorpe Swim Centre at Ultimo and teaches and inspires other young people with cerebral palsy.

    Alex is infectious.

    He has become my special mate and I have had him beside me at grand finals, World Club Challenges in the cold, north of England, State of Origin and Test matches, with me in the Sky Sports radio studios, at birthdays and family events.

    But Alex isn’t just my mate.

    I learned last weekend how many people at the Sea Eagles he has touched.

    Donny Singe is a hard-nut trainer of men and has put the edge on the Sea Eagles for a long time now as head conditioner. He has put his emphasis on fitness and mind into Alex.

    He has spent hours making him stronger, leaner and more positive. Donny proudly watched his project reach another goal last Saturday.

    Several sponsors of the Sea Eagles were there to cheer Al on and give him support. A truck carried a sign which read: “Go Big Al.” I remember Al leaping to his feet in the 2008 grand final when Matt Ballin dived over to start Manly’s barrage of points on their way to a record 40-0 win.

    Last Saturday, I watched Matty leap to his feet as Big Al scored his first ever try - ironically from dummy-half as well.

    It was a beautiful thing and something every Sea Eagles player should be proud of as all of them have taken time in the gym and at matches to encourage Al and have played some part in the amazing love of life this young person now has.
  2. lloydy

    lloydy Active Member

    +86 /0
    He is a great young fella! I have only been to a few games in the last couple of years as I live in Vic, but I have seen and talked to Alex and hid dad all 3 times.
    I have great footage of Killer and Matt giving him a hug during the victory lap at the gf.
  3. Ceagle

    Ceagle Well-Known Member

    +252 /4
    Where did he get the nickname Big Al?
  4. byso

    byso Well-Known Member

    +85 /0
    I thought he dumped us when zorba got the chop
  5. SeaEagleRock8

    SeaEagleRock8 Sea Eagle Lach Staff Member Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +10,558 /215
    Thanks Big Al for inspiring the rest of us with your feats and joi de vivre (well, Zorba did say you speak three languages!)

    I hope to meet you one day, meanwhile keep playing and keep supporting the mighty Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

    Our playing group and all our staff are really decent folk (and yes I include our recently departed coach here) and this is one of the reasons why rugby league is worth supporting. It is a positive in our community, despite the male-dominated & violence aspects of it. A contradiction in terms, perfect for the human race!
  6. arty

    arty Active Member

    +31 /0
    A very heartwarming story. Well done Alex and the Sea Eagles and well reported too. We need this sort of stuff. It brings out the caring aspect of humanity in all of us.An excellent goodwill to all Christmas story, but we can enjoy positive attitudes of courage and hope all year, not just December. Let's hope we hear more of Big Al and all other Big Als in our community in the footy season.
  7. Masked Eagle

    Masked Eagle Well-Known Member

    +976 /0
    I thought the same. Its a good thing if he's back on board. Well done Champ.
  8. Clint

    Clint . Premium Member 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +2,173 /34
    Nice story BE.
  9. Cameron

    Cameron Cambo

    +669 /35
    nah lads he boycotted one game in a sign of support for a mate.

    Al's a great kid and is an inspiration, hes got a cracker sense of humour too.
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