A Tale of Hope and Redemption

Tomorrow night marks the start of the 2009 AFL competition but it also represents something much more important. It represents a tale of hope and redemption.

Keen AFL fans will know that I am referring to the return of Ben Cousins, who takes the field for the Richmond Tigers against Carlton (surely the finest team in the competition).

Cousins is a wonderfully talented player. A Brownlow Medal winner and dual West Coast Eagles best and fairest winner, he succumbed to the lure of drugs and off-field indiscretions that resulted in him being banned from football for 12 months.

His off-field life and associates deterred a lot of clubs from giving him another chance at the big time. After all, the threat of relapse will be ever-present and there is truth in the saying that ‘one bad apple can spoil the entire barrel’.

But someone of Cousins’ ability can also lift a team to new heights, not simply through his playing ability but by inspiring those who face adversity themselves.

Naturally there is a risk, to the club, to individual players and to the public image of the AFL as a whole. Some will say that the risk is too high and that Ben Cousins doesn’t deserve another chance. They say that the damage he inflicted on his team and the football community was too great. Only time will tell if this is an accurate assessment, but I want to give Ben Cousins the benefit of the doubt.

There is no question that Cousins has been through a tough time. Similarly, there can be no excuses because it was his own actions that took him down that path. He let a lot of people down in the process.

However, when he takes the field tomorrow night, fans should see a man who is fighting back against his addictions and the weight of public condemnation. It will be a wonderful opportunity for us to see the strength of character and power of redemption in action.

I for one hope he succeeds…although I’ll be barracking hard against him for a Blues victory!

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