- Publication date:1 May 2015
- Format:B format paperback
- Genre: sport fiction
- Age guide: Middle Readers, 11+
For Footy Dreaming
By Michael Hyde
Ben and Noah play on opposing teams in a footy-obsessed town. They each dream of playing on the G – and this is their make or break season. Tensions rise as sledging goes too far.
Will Noah lose his cool, and his chance, in the face of prejudice? Will Ben reject racism and forge his own path?
Noah and Ben both have the potential to play in the AFL. It’s up to each of them whether they make it.
The saying is ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover,’ however for this book you can, it has an amazing cover and story.
When it comes to football season all eyes are turned to the two stars of the town, Ben and Noah who share a dream of playing at the MCG. Noah is aboriginal and the book is not shy of sharing the reality of racism with the readers.
The book takes you on a journey with the boys who are trying to make it into the Bushrangers Squad. Footy fan or not, you will feel hope, disappointment, sadness and excitement within this story.
I would recommend this book to children aged 12+
Emily Meldrum –
In the Australian country town of Marshall fifteen year old Noah Davis and Ben Meredith barely know each other but they share a passion – that one day they will play AFL at the highest level. Each week they play for their respective teams training hard but all the while thinking and breathing footy. These two players come from vastly different backgrounds but much of their journey is the same. Will they make it to the top?
Noah belongs to the Mavericks, a supportive team with mateship and family as key components. Their team colours are black, red and yellow and with strong Koori ties amongst the community the Mavericks are a popular drawcard at the local footy grounds.
Ben’s team is the Kookaburras, a team where loyalty is paramount but being a nice-guy is not necessary. Their coach Mark Elliot uses taunt and insults to opposing teams and expects his players to do likewise. Ben is from a family of third generation Kookaburra supporters and his father’s identity is heavily dependent upon this generational belonging.
The story begins with the first game of the season between the Mavericks and the Kookaburras. With talent scouts from the Bushrangers reported to be in town, looking for players for their elite squads, the match pressure is on. Both Noah and Ben want to be in their best form to start making their footy dreams come true.
As the story unfolds we see the pressure on the players from multiple quarters – performance, family, fellow players and one of racism. A fight ensues after that first match as Noah objects to being called a “black bastard” and when Ben steps in to break up the scuffle to assist Noah his team mates begin doubting his loyalty.
Hyde has created two very likeable and indomitable characters in Footy Dreaming who essentially remain focussed on their dreams while forming bonds of friendship over time. Helping each character to overcome racism and questions of loyalty are the staunch family members who through their footy fanaticism show how they deeply love and care for their sons. This story was enthralling and fascinating! Readers who love their footy will be happily entranced with this latest novel by Michael Hyde but those who have never even seen a match will be equally drawn in. Recommended for readers aged eleven plus.
Robyn Donoghue –
Michael Hyde’s new novel Footy Dreaming weaves a complex tale. It tells of two fifteen-year-old country boys from Marshall, who both dream of one day playing AFL at the MCG.
Noah Davis plays for the Mavericks under the inclusive and kind-hearted coach Harry O’Grady – affectionately known as HOG. Unfortunately for Ben Meredith, who plays for the Kookaburras, he is coached by the racist and aggressive Mr Elliot, who even HOG accuses of ‘turning kids into thugs’. Both boys need to be selected by the Bushrangers Development Squad in order to come a step closer to fulfilling their footy dreams. Noah and Ben have the commitment and natural talent to make it, so believe they have an equal chance at selection.
Through the two footy clubs, Michael Hyde cleverly depicts how it takes a whole village to raise a child, and how different methodologies impact on a child’s future. It also shows how a kind family unit with good intentions can triumph over aggression and oppression. Noah’s grandma, a wise Elder and anchor for the Gunditjmara mob, teaches Noah patience, dignity, tolerance and hope. ‘She held hope for people – people can change’.
Through Ben and Noah, the plot cleverly unravels and exposes the underlying racism present in many country towns; the insidious nature of lifelong prejudices being passed down to the next generation and how it has become accepted and tolerated.
Sledging and racial taunts differ in extremes, but ultimately Footy Dreaming examines how change can occur when backed up by law. We see that racial vilification charges being laid on the footy field can offer hope for the future.
This story is gripping, showing the rawness of country footy, a quality that is lost in the commercial world of AFL. But more importantly, Michael Hyde’s book portrays two boys sharing a common dream, who through the formation of their unlikely friendship, see the world more clearly, along with their dreams.