TEENAGER Luke Cotellessa was named one of WA’s brightest young sporting stars last week, winning two awards in Community News’ 2017 Local Sports Star Awards, but the 11-year-old is giving the prize money back to those in need.
The 11-year-old from The Vines set up an initiative in 2014 called Luke’s Boots for the Outback, where he collects footy boots, guernsies, socks, balls and equipment and donates them to disadvantaged children in WA regional towns.
Luke won the Young Sporting Spirit Individual Award for the hills and eastern region and was also the overall winner for the category, winning a total prize of $700 for his work with the initiative, in which he travelled thousands of kilometres across WA to deliver the donated items.
After winning the award, Luke told his parents he wanted to donate the money back into Luke’s Boots for the Outback.
He said his idea for Luke’s Boots came after a kick of the footy at a local oval.
“I was eight and had made friends at an oval. We were kicking the footy and one kid was playing in socks,” he said.
“I asked my mum if I could give him my last season’s boots which I grew out of; he was a good player and I wanted him to come back and play.”
Luke said he didn’t understand why other kids didn’t have football boots, but it was explained to him that in regional towns people didn’t have access to equipment.
“I understand now why the kids don’t have boots, so I keep collecting because all kids should have what they need,” he said.
“I get letters now too from the kids who love their boots or their mums write to my mum.”
Luke said he was surprised to win the Local Sport’s Star awards.
He said he would spend a little bit of the money on himself, but would be putting most of the money towards buying football boots, footballs and pumps.
“I love all my sports and most mornings and every night I train really hard. I have had a good year at my school competitions in athletics and cross country and also in my football club’s best and fairest, but the sport star award is one of my favourites,” he said
“Mum and Dad told me about the prize. They told me it was a big prize and said they would like me to buy myself something, but asked me to think about good ways I could use it.”
Luke’s mother, Tamara Cotellessa said they were extremely proud of him.
“The first time he offered his birthday money gifted to him for the benefit of someone else we knew he was a kind boy,” she said.
“Even before Luke’s Boots, his godmother introduced him to volunteers at an animal shelter with a non-voluntary euthanasia policy and he shook a can raising funds for them.”