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Players’ Voice — Lin Jong

Last year in an elimination final against West Coast I broke my collar bone in the second quarter.

I obviously knew my night was done when it happened, and I honestly thought the season was over for me. The physio and doctors immediately said to me, ‘We’ll get a plate in it and you’ll be right to play in two weeks.’

At the time, I thought they were just trying to say anything to get me to stop crying like a baby!

After the game finished I was booked in business class on a red eye flight from Perth to Melbourne. I arrived back around 5am and was driven home.

At 10am, less than 12 hours after I broke my collar bone, I got scans to assess the damage. Scans confirmed it was broken and I was under the knife by 4pm.

All this so I could get a plate inserted on my collar bone to have the best chance to play as quickly as possible, with no guarantee there would be a game to play. I imagine this is quite standard amongst other football clubs — players getting fixed within days of injuries.

As an athlete, this is the level of medical care I’ve grown accustomed to, and admittedly have probably taken for granted. Now on the other end of the spectrum, there are places that aren’t as fortunate — like where my dad was born, East Timor.

There, the majority of the population don’t have access to even basic health care. A child could have a life-threatening disease and the family would be unable to access medical care to detect, manage or treat it.

It’s moments like the West Coast game that put things into perspective for me, and make me consider how lucky I truly have it. That’s why I decided to become an ambassador for East Timor Hearts Fund, a volunteer-powered medical aid charity that helps young people with life-threatening heart conditions.

Photo credit: Mat Lynn / East Timor Hearts Fund

The word selfless is often brought up in football. Laying a block for a teammate, giving it off to someone to kick a goal, putting your body on the line. All these actions, in football terms, are selfless. This has a whole new meaning to me when you think of this great charity, that you have people giving up their time, effort and expertise to simply help others, with nothing in return.

These kinds of people are why I feel so passionately about this cause. They inspire me to help others less fortunate.

I’ve had the chance to meet a few patients that the charity has helped and seen how life-changing it is for them. A 13-year-old boy named Paulo had lifesaving heart surgery and just two weeks later I was able to have a kick at the club with him. Now he’s back at school, working on his dream of studying to become an engineer!

Photo credit: Mat Lynn / East Timor Hearts Fund

At the moment, I’m trying to use my profile as an athlete to help spread awareness of the great work East Timor Hearts Fund does, and if that’s my way of helping I’m happy to do it.

In the future, I hope to go to East Timor to experience and understand first-hand what they do. Not only in their screening clinics and how they arrange surgeries to be done in Australia, but also experience their work in research, education and preventative health projects that can help stop people from getting heart disease in the first place.

Please check out East Timor Hearts Fund on Facebook or take a look at their website. I hope you’ll find their work as inspiring as I do. This is a great organisation that relies on volunteers and receives no government support, so if you can donate your help will make a real difference.