By Luke Hammond
Earning the right to represent your country is the highest accolade attainable in sport. You are one of the best at what you do and in the world of professional athletes that means you have earned the perks that come with selection.
The tools of your sport are often thrust upon you by sponsors who are more than happy to supply you with free kit and much more, just for simple brand affiliation. Travel is often paid for by the sporting institution that you are representing and all other wants and needs no matter how farfetched (think Mario Balotelli and his camouflage themed Bentley, supplied by Manchester City) are often covered along the way.
For professional athletes the triviality of booking a flight to cross the Irish Sea would be handled by a representative of their sporting club or if they are lucky enough to have one a personal assistant. This is not the case for British Aussie Rules star Luke Booth affectionately known as “Boothy.”
In a time of triple dip recessions, redundancies and cut backs, the funding to minority sports such as British Aussie Rules Football has effectively evaporated. Boothy who began his Aussie Rules career at Lockwood Park has represented England, Great Britain and became vice-captain of the European Aussie Rules squad.
For all the accolades of representing your country and continent playing Aussie Rules Football to such a high standard has come at a price, literally a financial cost. The players who represent Team GB are expected to foot the financial strain of travel, accommodation and food.
The highlight of the European Aussie Rules calendar is the European championships which are due to take place in August over the Irish Sea in Dublin. Normally selection for your national squad is the most nerve racking element of the usual pre-tournament formalities, but in the case of Luke Booth finding the money to join the squad in Ireland has proved a much more daunting task:
“The trip to Ireland will cost approximately £700.00. After representing Team GB earlier in the year I am finding this very difficult to self-finance. I have found some funding but I am still a little short and with an August deadline there is a chance i may have to turn down the invitation.”
Playing ability and skill used to dictate whether or not you represented your nation. Now in the age of heightened sporting commerciality it seems the gap between the sporting haves and have-nots has widened to such an extent that where turning down the chance to represent your country because of financial constraints has become a genuine alternative to national representation.
Luke Booth is still searching for sponsorship for the up-coming European Aussie Rules Championship where he is representing Team GB. If you would like to contact Luke regarding potential sponsorship or donations please do not hesitate to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org any contributions will be greatly received.