An exciting new strike partnership was on show in Adelaide on Sunday when Wellington Phoenix’s Roy Krishna and One Culture Football star Ryan Day joined forces.
Eight-year-old Ryan (pictured with Krishna pre-match) was one of several members of One Culture's disability program who were mascots for yesterday’s Hyundai A-League match between the Phoenix and Adelaide United in the City of Churches.
Ryan has epilepsy and requires a walker to move, but that has not stopped him from scoring goals on the football pitch.
And after walking out at Coopers Stadium with Fijian maestro Krishna before Sunday's game, he was able to achieve his dream of hitting the back of the net in front of a big crowd during the half-time interval.
“Ryan was jumping up and down when I told him. He was so excited,” Nader Ibrahim, founder of One Culture, told www.aleague.com.au.
“In the tunnel he was high-fiving all the players, looking at the stadium and tunnel with a lot of passion, he could see the grass and the crowd in the background and was so excited.
“He said, ‘when are we going in so I can kick some goals in there?’ All the spectators were cheering him along when everyone was scoring.
This is a massive achievement, he’s always been a big fan of soccer and I believe yesterday was a day that made a lot of difference for him.”
Because of his walking frame, Ryan had to be last out of the tunnel, but Krishna was only too happy to help the youngster onto the pitch.
“Roy was chatting to Ryan and having a good conversation with him. They were getting along very well,” said Ibrahim. “He showed the man he is and how he can be with kids.”
One Culture Football, founded by Ibrahim in July 2017, is a charity whose mission is to “empower people of all cultures, abilities, and diverse backgrounds to forge community connections through inclusive football.”
Having formed an unofficial partnership with Adelaide United, who have provided One Culture with footballs, kits and other gear, Ibrahim believes there will be more opportunities for kids like Ryan to realise their footballing dreams.
“I personally have never seen kids with disability of this type walking down as mascots and having this opportunity before, so I would like to say a massive thanks to Adelaide United,” he said.
“This was just the beginning of something that we believe is going to be really good.”