April 11th, 2022If I can, you can, so Karen and Hayden did
FORMER Kyneton Football Netball Club president Karen O’Sullivan and club legend Hayden Walsh have joined forces to publish If I can, you can.
Hayden Walsh, who is also well known around the Bendigo Football Netball League as “H”, has been Kyneton’s senior timekeeper since 2014.
If I can, you can, tells the story of the 31-year old’s life, and living with cerebral palsy.
Hayden was born with his disability but has refused to be defined by it. “I was told as a young boy that I was given the body I have, and the life I have and it’s up to me to make the most of it. That’s what I am doing; living my life to the best of my ability.”
The one-eyed Collingwood supporter has a unique bond with the AFL club’s former player and coach Nathan Buckley, who has provided a moving foreword for the book. “A triumph of will, a celebration of determination and an inspiring example of thinking without limits are the chords of Hayden’s tune.”
When Hayden was 11 years old, he became the first Auskicker with a disability to be involved in a game during the half-time break in an AFL match. He was photographed leaving Princes Park with his walking sticks above his head, showing appreciation to the applauding football crowd; the photo made page three of the Herald Sun newspaper the next day.
Hayden was instrumental in the Kyneton Football Netball Club fielding its first ever all-abilities team in 2021, with a Kyneton team competing in the FIDA competition.
Hayden lives in Kyneton with his partner Yessah, who he met through an online dating app in 2018, they have a three-year-old daughter Shanaya. Hayden has worked at Woolworths in Kyneton for over 12 years and is also employed by the John Holland construction group in Melbourne.
Karen O’Sullivan is a former radio and TV journalist who became the Kyneton Football Netball Club’s first female president in 2018.
She lives in Barfold, near Kyneton on a sheep farm with her husband Martin, they have four sons who have all played for Kyneton in the Bendigo Football Netball League. Max and Tommy O’Sullivan went on to play VFL football, Ned won last year’s seniors’ best and fairest for the Kyneton Football Netball Club seniors and youngest son Jack plays NAB cup level for the Oakleigh Chargers while he attends boarding school in Melbourne.
“I have always loved telling stories, and luckily when I asked Hayden if I could write his biography he said ‘yes’,” says Karen. “I’ve always wanted to write a book, and I hope this is the first of many.”
If I can, you can was launched at the Kyneton Football Netball Club during the Club’s 2022 season launch and at the Kyneton Hotel.
If I can, you can can be purchased at Aesop’s Attic Bookstore, Kyneton or online at https://www.icoe.com.au/
Hayden will receive profits from all book sales.
Above, from left, Nathan Buckley, Hayden Walsh and Karen O’Sullivan
Image: Courtesy Herald Sun