An 8 year-old Māori boy from Tauranga has been selected to train at the prestigious International Football School in Sydney, Australia for a whole week in April. However, not all has been smooth sailing as three years ago this dream was far from becoming reality as he was diagnosed with a serious brain and spinal disorder.
At the outset, Kauri Hohaia seems like any other 8 year-old. However, less than three years ago his family received the worst news of their lives, in that Kauri would need neurosurgery which would affect his ability to walk and talk.
Kauris father, Owen (Te Arawa/Ngāpuhi) says,“that journey started for us from that point on and it was just visits to Starship leading up to his main surgery."
Kauri is the second eldest of four children, his older brother Brayden who is 10, younger sister Mackenzie who is 6 and Malikai the youngest at four along with mum and dad have all supported him. Dad has always been a rugby and league supporter so he admits following Football is also good learning for him too.
He adds, “because he has taken to the sport so well we've come to love the game too and appreciate [the game] a little more, first time I have ever watched a soccer game is with him”
Kauri hopes to achieve great things in football but Mum says her dream of him living life is most important.
Kauri's mother, Shirralee, believes in talking about children with debilitating disabilities that it is imperative to “let them be themselves. I would love to recommend cotton wool and not let him do anything, but that's going to not be enough for him so let him be himself”
Kauri is currently fundraising to head over to the international football school in Australia, by selling a range of services on Facebook.