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Inspiring Hunter footballers eye off World Cup challenge

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Two inspiring athletes from the Hunter will lead the Australian charge at the inaugural 2024 World Transplant Football World Cup in Italy.

Cooks Hill’s Nicholas Brady and Lake Macquarie’s Jake Maudsley have gained selection to don the “green and gold” for the September seven-a-side tournament, which follows the FIFA format.

Teams comprising heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas and bone marrow recipients will come together for a week-long celebration of the gift of life in Cervia.

Cooks Hill’s Nicholas Brady will represent Australia at the inaugural 2024 World Transplant Football World Cup in Italy in September.

Brady thought his dream of playing football was over when he was diagnosed with kidney disease.

“Life before my transplant was a mental and physical rollercoaster,” the 35-year-old said.

“My energy levels were up and down… and I was getting sick and really dizzy a lot.

“I missed out on celebrating my 30th birthday because I was on dialysis.

“And, I couldn’t do things I love like swimming and surfing.”

After 18 months on the waiting list, Brady received a life-saving transplant in 2019.

Now, he’s preparing to represent Australia on the international stage.

“No words can describe the feeling to be selected for your country,” Brady said.

“I am honoured and proud to represent Australia, my family, friends, donor and the transplant community.

“I’m still pinching myself.

“I am so thankful to my donor for giving me this chance.

“I hope people will sit down with their families and talk about organ donation.”

Maudsley has faced more challenges than most his age.

He began losing his hearing when he was 9.

At the time, he and his family were unaware of his condition.

The youngster was given hearing aids… and he went about his life as normal.

However, at 15, Maudsley’s kidneys began to fail and he was diagnosed with Alport Syndrome.

Despite this, he and his family were able to manage his condition.

In fact, the teen played football, graduated high school and backpacked around the world.

In 2020, the now 28-year-old’s health took a turn for the worse.

“The plan was to have a transplant before I needed to start dialysis treatment,” he said.

“But, unfortunately, due to the COVID pandemic, it was delayed indefinitely.

“In June 2020, I started dialysis.”

Maudsley spent four months undergoing treatment before he was finally given a date for his transplant.

Jake and his donor, his father.

Amazingly, his dad donated one of his kidneys in October 2020.

“Doctors and other recipients had told me that I would feel a million bucks when I woke up from my transplant,” he said.

“I didn’t believe them because of how tired I felt beforehand.

“However, I actually wanted to run the halls cheering when I did wake up.

“I had so much energy in my body but couldn’t do anything with it yet because I was so sore from surgery.

“Receiving a kidney transplant completely changed my life.”

Maudsley’s recovery has been marked with hospital visits but through it all, his positive spirit and determination has seen him overcome it all.

“There’s always ups and downs,” he said.

“But, I am incredibly grateful for my donor (my dad), my medical team and all the friends I have made along the way that have helped me in my recovery.”

Joining the Transplant Australia Football Club has helped Maudsley rediscover his passion for football.

“Being part of TAFC is helping me to find my sense of identity and community again,” he said.

“The opportunity to play again with a team that understands my physical limitations has helped me regain my love for playing sport.”

Honoured to be representing Australia, Maudsley hopes competing at the Transplant Football World Cup will help spread the message of organ and tissue donation around the globe.

“To be part of a team that, not only gets to represent Australia, but to spread awareness on the importance of organ donation so people like me have the second chance to live out their dreams in life, is a huge honour,” he said.

“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to play football again.”

The Aussies will be coached by former A-League professional Josh Rose.

He amassed more than 350 games in a 17-year career, including many seasons at the Central Coast Mariners.

Rose said he was inspired to lead the side after his brother Luke had two kidney transplants.

“When you look at the team on the pitch, you would have no understanding of the health battles they have faced,” he explained.

“They are truly inspiring… and we hope to give the World Cup a real shake.”

Participation at the Transplant Football World Cup is self-funded.

If you would like to support Brady or Maudsley on their journeys, visit https://transplant-australia-football-club.raisely.com/nicholas-brady or https://transplant-australia-football-club.raisely.com/jake-maudsley

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