SEVENTEEN-year-old Jarrah Sofarnos was a popular choice as vice-captain of the Warrandyte Junior Football Club for 2014.
Renowned for his bravery on the field, that courage and determination extends well beyond the footy field.
Only last year Jarrah was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after noticing a large lump growing fast in his neck.
Even though he was sick while battling the disease, the Year 11 student was determined to continue supporting his team and the club, still getting along to as many games as possible as a spectator.
Jarrah is the first to admit he wasn’t as concerned as he probably should have been when he was first diagnosed. Last year he was picked to head off on an exchange program to Germany for three months in July with his school, Rudolf Steiner. Unfortunately he had to postpone after finding out he was sick just days before he was due to leave.
“I was more annoyed about missing my trip to Germany than anything else! I mean, you hear people get cancer and you think, oh, that’s really sad and it must be hard, but you don’t know what it’s like until you have it and I didn’t realise what I was in for,” Jarrah says.
“You just have to be positive in those situations, if you go in negative, it makes things 10 times worse and it seems like it goes a lot slower.”
While Jarrah was first told he would need to have six to nine months of treatment, his positive attitude could have had a lot to do with the fact that he was given the all clear after just three months, meaning his trip was back on the cards and he left in October.
During his treatment, the team rallied around him and it was Jarrah now on the receiving end of the support of the Warrandyte Junior Football Club. He was blown away when the club presented him with a signed jersey of his favourite team, Essendon, on presentation night last year in recognition of his determination.
He says the best part about playing footy for Warrandyte is getting to run on the field with the guys on his team.
“They are my teammates, but they are also my friends. I also just got back from a fooy trip to Fremantle where we got to play on Paterson’s Stadium which was great, it really brought us together,” he says.
“Warrandyte is a great club – everyone there really cares and they were a big support for me last year.”
Along with team captain Jack Poole and teammates Ben Richardson and Josh Huntly, who make up the rest of the club leadership group, Jarrahhopes to use his new role to bring the team together, as well as inspiring closer bonds at the club.
Almost 200 local kids will don the red and white for the Bloods in season 2014, proving how important the leadership group is in supporting young men and boys in the community.
The group has been discussing ideas on how they can benefit the team and club in general and create a feeling of one big family through family nights. They also aim to encourage the younger guys to commit to training by offering them support as mentors.
As Jarrah puts it: “That’s where it starts, if they give up when they are young, it’s harder to get pick up when they are older.”
After finishing VCE, Jarrah hopes to either travel or study outdoor education, before possibly heading to Camp America where he will no doubt be a fantastic role model for the kids he will mentor.
By RUTH BIRCH
Warrandyte Diary – Issue 2014_5