By Ben Pollard
Lucas Williamson’s mother Millie says her son never wanted to be different.
Watching Lucas kick his footy around the yard of his parents’ Brighton home, there is nothing to suggest he is different in any way.
Like most nine-year-olds, Lucas has one dream. He wants to play in the AFL.
The mere suggestion he would play with any team but Essendon is pointless. Lucas is passionate about his Bombers.
He proudly shows off a football signed by Essendon players, received after he once attended training with the club and was invited to sing the team song in the MCG rooms after a Bombers win.
He idolises Jobe Watson, Heath Hocking and Michael Hurley to name a few and wants to play as a ruck rover, not unlike the Essendon captain he looks up to.
Lucas Williamson seems like a normal footy-loving kid, but his story is far from normal.
He’s been through much more in his nine years than many will ever go through: Lucas has fought – and beaten – leukaemia.
The fact that he has lived to pursue his football dream is miraculous.
Lucas is now in remission and his physical strength is gradually returning after four years of chemotherapy.
Three weeks ago, he played his first SMJFL match for St Peters in the Under 9s, and his Mum couldn’t be more proud.
“First match, first game of footy ever, he kicked a goal; that was pretty phenomenal,” Millie says.
But for the Williamsons, just having Lucas out on the field is phenomenal.
“Everything is a gift, really,” Millie says.
“It’s very emotional for both me and my husband, but Lucas just takes everything in his stride.
“He’s cool, calm, collected, and I’m there with tears in my eyes on the sideline, but it’s just tears of joy and happiness.”
Lucas should be playing Under 10s, but a special motion passed by the SMJFL allows him to play as an Under 9.
His Mum is thankful. She says he missed out on developing his skills in the Auskick program and isn’t as physically strong as other kids his age, but Lucas has surprised her with the speed of his improvement.
“His fitness is really skyrocketing, so the big thing is just learning that it’s OK to get in there on the ball,” Millie says.
“For most of his life I’ve said: ‘No, you can’t do that. Be careful, stop, come back!’
“Now I’m trying to get the exact opposite out of him, to jump on the ball and know that it’s OK.”
It seems he does. Lucas completes all his training. He recovers well from games. He gets to do what he loves, and do it all with his mates at St Peters.
“He could play other sports which are probably less physical, but his passion is footy,” Millie says.
When asked what his favourite part of playing football is, Lucas ponders for a second.
“… Winning and having fun.”
Yes, Lucas Williamson’s story is remarkably different in so many ways, but one thing’s for sure – there’s nothing ‘different’ about his attitude to footy.