A LITTLE Griffith footballer had a big experience in Canberra on Saturday when he was given the honour of running out onto the ground with his sporting idol.
With the cheers from 11,500 people ringing in his ears, six-year-old Xavier McLeod made his way out onto GIO Stadium Canberra with Brumbies and Wallabies captain Ben Mowen.
The Griffith’s under 7s Short Blacks travelled down into the heartland of the ACT Brumbies on Saturday to play at half-time of the Brumbies’ Super Rugby clash with the Stormers.
Xavier was one of 17 local kids who made the trip to compete.
Xavier’s dad Sam, who had no idea his son had been chosen until he saw the pint-sized footballer lead the way, said his son hasn’t stopped talking about the experience.
“They just organised it on the day so it was a surprise to see him there,” he said.
“He really enjoyed it. He was super excited.”
Griffith Blacks president Clint Robertson said the trip had become an annual pilgrimage for the club.
“It never disappoints,” he said.
“The guys from the Brumbies who organise the half-time matches noticed we’d brought a few kids with us.
“They were so impressed with the fact that we had 17 when other places only had six or seven that they asked if one of our kids would like to run out on field with Brumbies and Wallabies captain Ben Mowen.
“Xavier has been playing with under 7s for a couple of years now.
“He was the keenest to do it, but I don’t think he expected to have 11,500 people screaming at him.
“You could see on his face when he realised how big it was.
“He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Mr Robertson said it was credit to the junior club’s committee that so many young players were present.
“It was wonderful to have so many families travel down so their little men could play 10 minutes of union,” he said.
“The Griffith Short Blacks outnumbered their Canberra based opponents two to one and in the case of the other two teams (Wagga and Queanbeyan) they were three to one.”