AFL player bucks trend, puts grand final over birth of child

"It's a once in a lifetime event"

A Collingwood player has signaled his intention to play in the 2011 decider despite the fact his pregnant wife is due to give birth on grand final day.

The footballer, who asked to remain anonymous, said he took heart from former Collingwood great Saverio Rocca, who famously left his wife in labor to play in a 2005 elimination final.

“I know a lot of blokes will choose the birth of their child over a footy game, but I think it’s time we stopped feeling obliged to be there for our partners and just got on with our day job,” he said.

“I don’t want to go there and sit around feeling useless, holding my drugged-up missus’ hand while while some doctor does his thing, I’d rather go out and help my team to grand final glory.”

The unlucky player has been told his child is expected for October 1, the date of the 2011 grand final. He blamed himself for not “doing the math.”

“We’ d been trying to conceive for a while and it wasn’t until we went on a honeymoon to Bali in the late off-season over January and February that [his wife] Charlene fell pregnant. In retrospect, I should have thought a bit more about the AFL’s programming for the 2011 season before I knocked her up, but the tropical backdrop and flowing Mai Tai cocktails took control of my bodily urges – I’ve only got myself to blame.”

80% of footballers conceive their offspring on the Indonesian island

The move is a break from the usual tradition of athletes putting their family ahead of big sporting occasions.

Cricketer Kevin Pietersen fled the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean last year to attend their birth of his first child, while Australian all-rounder Andrew McDonald hurried home mid-way through the 2009 Ashes series to be by his wife’s side for the big occasion.

And Port Adelaide captain Dom Cassisi could miss this Sunday’s clash with Melbourne, to be played in Darwin, after he elected to stay with his wife up until the day before the game in case she went into labor.

Cassisi was reportedly tempted to emulate Western Bulldogs backman Brian Lake’s “putting footy first” philosophy, but backed out at the 11th hour. Lake famously had the birth of his daughter induced back in 2009 so that he could take part in the finals series.

By Dave Edwards

 

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