'We share a very special friendship, and I consider him like family. He has my back and I have his,' the captain said.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 26, 2022. It has since been updated.
The Geelong Football Club from Victoria, Australia, also known as the Cats, was the greatest team of the season, winning the preliminary and decider championship games by a combined score of 152 points and the minor premiership by two victories. However, the celebrations following the game revealed the kind of champions the club's top stars are off the field as well.
Cats captain Joel Selwood, who would have been well within his rights to make the occasion about himself and his colleagues, saw Sam Moorfoot in the crowd during the victory lap in front of thousands of jubilant Cats supporters. Lifetime supporter of the Cats and head water boy for the team, Moorfoot, 29, has Down syndrome. When the Cats captain saw Moorfoot among the crowd, he called him to the Melbourned Cricket Grounds so he could participate in the lap of honor, winning the hearts of everyone watching the game, reports Perth Now.
In Australia, this football team just won the league championship.— Goodable (@Goodable) September 25, 2022
Their captain went into the stands to get their waterboy, who has Down's Syndrome, so they could celebrate together.#Humanity 🌏 🇦🇺pic.twitter.com/beQuezPNan
Moorfoot remembered Selwood picking him out of the crowd on Australian Football League grand final day as the "moment" of his life. “What a moment,” Moorfoot told AAP on Sunday. “I’m very proud of my boys to win a premiership. Joel said he wanted to get me on the ground. That was the moment of the life, what an honour.”
Sammy’s moment #AFLGF pic.twitter.com/OK4GhdJQHV— AFL (@AFL) September 24, 2022
Moorfoot had been working at the Cats Bistro as a volunteer when the GMHBA Stadium was redeveloped and the bistro closed. The team went on to make him the head water boy on the team’s main training day back in 2015. He has been with the Cats for more than 7 years. Selwood likes Moorfoot as well and has expressed a lot of support for him in the past. In the Football Integration Development Association, an Australian Rules football league for athletes with intellectual disabilities, Moorfoot plays for the Geelong Dragons. He reached his own grand final against the Kananook Bulls, but lost 16.10 (106) to 8.3 (51) in the end.
Selwood, the first Disability Inclusion Ambassador for the AFL, told The Age in August that he was rooting for Moorfoot in the big game. “Sam has let everyone know about the big game this week. He’s not shy of that,” Selwood said. “He was even caught earlier in the week doing hot and cold recovery with the boys at the club. We’re all really excited for him.” Describing their bond to The Age, Selwood said, “We share a very special friendship, and I consider him like family. He has my back and I have his.”
The face when he invites him onto the ground. https://t.co/EKwWdB72vo— Barrie Cassidy (@barriecassidy) September 24, 2022
Selwood's hand gesture to Moorfoot following the Cats' incredible 81-point victory over the Sydney Swans has got the fans teary. Selwood can be heard calling Moorfoot out of the stands in a video that is being widely shared on social media and Moorfoot just stands there staring at him in surprise. Selwood made sure Moorfoot didn’t miss out on his big day. In amazing scenes, Cats star Jeremy Cameron removed his own medal and placed it around Moorfoot's neck after assisting him over the barrier and entering the MCG.
It’s pretty effing awesome how this club treats its people. Deserves all of its success. #sammytheflaghero https://t.co/0ARc5WOgBW— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) September 24, 2022
“I think Joel is amazing. A great role model but also a little bit cheeky. He treats me like a brother and always looks out for me,” Moorfoot said. “There isn’t one player at Geelong that isn’t kind and supportive. They are all my mates.” Fans loved to see this precious moment. Twitter user Helen Denton said, "Now that is a role model, Not a Geelong fan but that was brilliant Joel Selwood and others. This is a real man"
Sammy our Spiritual Leader 💙 #Untameable pic.twitter.com/jORQsoG61U— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) September 24, 2022
User r/smellygooch18 commented, "He definitely didn’t believe him when he said to come out. He just smiles in response and then his jaw drops when he realizes it’s the truth. I was having a bad day. I feel a bit better now." Another user, r/throw-away-traveller commented, "Earlier in the day the player (who is the captain) ran out with the old captains sick young kid. As an Eagles supporter, it pains me to say Geelong’s captains seems all class."