Clint Bolton seems a little melancholic today, like someone who is leaving home very reluctantly.
There are farewell speeches happening for him inside the hall that we have repurposed as our Addi Road Food Relief Hub. Clint has been coming here four mornings a week, packing thousands of hampers for people in need.
The energy and goodwill he brings have not gone unnoticed – and it’s clear he will be missed as everyone says their goodbyes.
Clint admits, “I’d prefer to stay.” But after being trapped in Sydney for the last four months during lockdown, the time has come to head back to Melbourne.
One of the great goalkeepers in Australian football, with a stellar career in the A-League that included being voted Sydney FC’s Player of the Year for the 2005-06 season, Clint has played at the top of his game for the best clubs in the land as well as nationally.
Lean, tall and fit, there’s still something of the last-line-of-defence goalkeeper that clings to Clint in his quiet way. He says he was inspired to come down and volunteer at Addi Road “because of Foz (Craig Foster). He is always posting on social media about the place. It got me thinking, so I contacted him.”
“I have loved it here,” Clint says. “I love the physical side of it, of course, just being active. But it’s the people too.”
“You get to a point in your life where you realise the most important thing is the relationships that you have with with people. Coming here, I’ve been inspired by Rosanna (Barbero, Addi Road CEO), Damien (Moore, Food Pantry Manager), Helen (Rogers, a Volunteer Team Leader), by everybody I was packing hampers with really.”
“It’s also to do with what Addi Road stands for. COVID has exacerbated the need for places like this. I’ve come to understand it all at a much deeper level,”
Clint shakes his head a little. “When I tell friends I volunteer here, they think it’s for the homeless. I have to tell them about the need that is out there, all the ordinary Australians who are just trying to get by.”
Asked if he can connect having worked at Addi Road Food Relief Hub with his background in sport, Clint answers easily. “Oh yeah, the teamwork. The teamwork without a shadow of a doubt. Coming together to work cohesively. Addi Road is a great example of that.”
“Football can learn a lot from this place and what it represents. The way that it works – and the connections between human rights and social awareness. It’s an education being here. That has to be good for any professional athlete in getting them out of their own bubble.”
“I’m at that stage where that is the main focus: finding the meaning in what you do in life. I’ve loved what I experienced here.”