An experience I’ll never forget, he says
MEETING a sports or movie star is an experience many could only dream of.
For Patterson Lusi, a former local referee who is currently studying in Australia, he got his chance to meet one of Australia’s most known sports personality and soccer star Tim Cahill, during an event in Sydney this week.
“Meeting Cahill was a memorable experience,” Mr Lusi, who is studying at the New South Wales University, told Weekend Magazine.
“I’ve watched him on television and recently during the Asian Cup, from the grandstand, but there is nothing like meeting him and taking a photo with him,” he added.
“It was an experience I will never forget.”
Mr Lusi said Tuesday this week he arrived at the New Balance Shop in Sydney where a press conference was conducted at around 9:20am.
“The whole shopping complex was jam packed with supporters.
“The official program started at 1pm when Cahill launched the youth football development programme, followed with a press conference put together by the management of the New Balance Australia.
“During the launch Cahill, who one plied his trade in the FA Cup in England, explained that this was his first public appearance since the Socceroos won the Asian Cup and he is delighted to involve in this national football project.”
Mr Lusi said that according to Cahill “this is a massive football development project which makes him feel excited to be part of as it will help kids in Australia to follow their dreams”.
The new football programme is one of his ongoing initiative to spread soccer across the country especially to the remote regions of Australia.
Cahill stated that not all the kids involving in this project will become professional footballers, however the project is helping young Australians to become better citizens and leaders in their country.
With the theme “We are New Balance Football” this youth football development project is jointly funded through a partnership of the grassroots football in Australia and New Balance Australia.
Speaking at the press conference, Cahill said he was excited of joining Shanghai Shenua Football Club in China later this month.
Cahill said the Shanghai Shenua Football Club is currently one of the top professional football clubs in China.
Lusi said the Sydney Morning Herald reporter Dominic Bossi reported that the president and the coaching panel of the club singed a transfer contract fee of over AUD$10 million with Cahill.
Mr Bossi also mentioned professional clubs like Cahill’s former Everton club in the English Premier League, clubs in Qatar and UAE also offered lucrative packages for him.
But Cahill told reporters he made the decision to play in the China Super League because he wanted to experience a new atmosphere of professional football and second this is going to advance the economic growth Australia is currently enjoying with China plus other powerful Asian economic giants like Japan and Korea.
His final comment on the deal was he received the offer whilst Socceroos was preparing for the final game against South Korea on Saturday 31 January 2015.
However, as a professional player he did not want to disturb his team mates in their preparation for that very important final game.
It was only during the Socceroos celebration that he formally announced his transfer to the Shanghai Shenua Football Club.
This was after he consulted his former coaches in the English and USA professional football leagues.
“Out of the 400 Socceroos fans that attended the programme, I was fortunate to be in a list of the first 20 soccer fans who had exclusive access to personally meet this great football player and witnessed his press conference,” Mr Lusi said.
Since Socceroos won the Asian Cup on Saturday 31 January 2015 at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Cahill has been busy conducting football programme for kids in Australia.
Tim Cahill is an Australian footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for MLS club New York Red Bulls.
As a youth he played at such clubs as Plumpton and Sydney United until he joined the youth system of a professional English club Millwall in 1997.
The next season, Cahill was promoted to the first team of the club.
In the 2003/04 season, he helped his club to climb up to the FA Cup final netting a goal in the semi-final match against Sunderland.
Overall, Cahill made a total of 52 goals in 217 appearances for Millwall during his six-year stint at the club.
In 2004, the Australian player signed for English Premier League side Everton.
He pulled off the debut season as a top scorer of the club and Everton Player of the Season.
All in all, Cahill recorded 56 goals in 226 games in Everton’s jersey for eight years. In the summer 2012, he moved to the USA to join New York Red Bulls in MLS.
Cahill is a renowned Australian international since 2004. He was capped to the Australia national team during the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup matches and was a part of the squad for the 2007, 2011 and 2015 Asian Cup.
Mr Lusi said:
“I had the opportunity to take photos with Tim Cahill and after, I personally asked him whether or not he has the vision to extend this New Balance Football programme to the small island states in the Pacific.
“Cahill said that in the future he has the vision to extend the benefits of the football project to Pacific island kids and also to share his personal story of how he became a professional soccer player in the world.”
Mr Lusi said he admired Cahill because he recognised and has a lot of respect to his roots in Samoa especially as his biological mother comes from there.
“I discovered that over the years Tim Cahill continues to gain a lot of respect from players and general public and this is due to one thing that is he is a role model that all players look to both in or off the field of play.”
Lusi is currently his Masters in Politics/ International relations.
Prior to taking up his studies, he was Director, Parliamentary Civic Education Department.
By ELLIOT DAWEA