Luke Hudson is the true heart and soul of one country football club nestled in north-west Victoria.
The Werrimull football player, fondly known as Huddo, embodies the spirit of the Millewa football-netball league.
The unparalleled joy of kicking a goal in a league game for Werrimull is one of Huddo’s most cherished memories.
“It was my dream, to play my first game of footy,” he said.
“Girls from this club saw me kick a goal. All the girls ran and cuddled me. And that was my best part, the girls ran to me and gave me one big cuddle.”
Marlee Hards trains alongside Huddo at the Werrimull Football Netball Club(ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Tamara Clark)
And it was a very special moment for spectator and teammate Marlee Hards too.
“Oh, Huddo’s goal! When he was just talking about it before, I actually got a little bit teary remembering it,” Ms Hards said.
Huddo, who lives with Down Syndrome, says there is always a way to achieve your dreams, even if you have to work out a unique way of getting there.
“My best skill is running, catch the footy, and seeing me kick a goal,” he said.
‘Happiest I’ve ever seen him’
Werrimull Football Club coach Matt Carter said Huddo elevated the vibe at training every week.
“I don’t think he sees it as a challenge or something you need to overcome,” Mr Carter said.
“He’s just embraces it and does what he can with what he’s got.”
Werrimull coach Matt Carter says Huddo has taught him a lot about inclusivity.(ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Tamara Clark)
Huddo is always the first to arrive at the club and his coach says he is always the last to leave.
“Huddo is a fantastic member. He comes, he helps out wherever he can,” Mr Carter said.
“On Saturdays he runs water for the girls and run water for the boys.
“He just a joy to have around.”
When asked about Huddo’s goal, Mr Carter said: “It was the happiest I’ve seen him ever.”
“He got to the goal square and just kicked the goal, turned around, arms up, happy.”
‘Anyone is welcome’
Huddo’s dedication to Aussie rules is garnering recognition today as part of the United Nations’ International Day for People with Disability.
To Ms Hards, the football club is not just about the sport — it’s about showcasing a precious side of country towns.
“It’s amazing [playing alongside Huddo,” Ms Hards said.
“Every Thursday night after dinner he’ll give the whole club a joke, he’ll have the whole club in absolute stitches. It’s amazing to have him around.”
Hitting the park in the Pies’ colours was Huddo’s dream.(ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Tamara Clark)
She said Werrimull proudly embraced diversity.
“We’re not only just a football netball club but we’re a big family,” Ms Hards said.
“We’ve always got each other’s back. Anyone is welcome.
“Doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, what you’re capable of. We’ll be able to find a spot for you.”
Source: AFL NEWS ABC