Sean Howard-McCann charges around the soccer field with the energy and enthusiasm of a typical 12-year-old – making tackles, firing passes and shooting for goal. There’s just one difference: Sean has magic soccer boots.
Okay, they’re not actually magic, but they’ve certainly had a magical impact on Sean’s life.
The 12-year-old has Congenital Talipes Equinovarus, also known as clubbed feet, which makes walking and running difficult. To help with this, Sean wears special shoes with built-in orthotics and leg braces.
But the leg braces he normally wears don’t meet the rules that apply to soccer competitions.
The 12-year-old was facing the possibility of missing out until his club, Suffolk Park FC, and Australian Pararoos representative, Ben Roche, stepped in.
They helped to raise money for Sean to get a special pair of custom-made football boots worth $2,750 that allow him to play the game he loves.
‘I felt pretty good that I can play soccer with my friends,’ Sean says.
‘It was pretty cool that everyone came and helped out.’
Mr Roche, who is also a member of Suffolk Park FC, was one of the main contributors, helping to raise $1,500 via the charity Lord Taverners Northern NSW.
Fundraiser June 22
Local businesses such as Byron at Byron have also pitched in with prizes that will be raffled at a fundraiser at the Byron Golf Club on June 22.
Not only is Sean a great footballer, he also plays a variety of other sports including athletics, wining a silver medal at the national level for children with disabilities.
Sean’s coach and club president, Tai Lonergan, believes he could be wearing the Green and Gold in a number of sports in the future.
‘Hopefully we can keep him in football,’ Mr Lonergan says. ‘Sean is a champion in our eyes.’
Sean’s parents, John Howard and Olivia McCann said the 12-year-old had never considered himself ‘in any way different’, and has never let his condition define him.
‘He has never complained and doesn’t see himself as disabled or deformed,’ they said. ‘One of the most precious moments was hearing how his whole school cheered him across the finish line in their cross-country’.
The fundraiser at Byron Golf Club on June 22 will kick off at 6pm, with music from local band the Hombres, food by TukTuk Thai and a kids’ play area provided by Byron Bay Kids Parties and Cakes. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com.au/e/hombresspfc-fundraiser-tickets-60859430194.