A nine-year-old Australian boy has taken centre-stage at a major sporting event, days after a video of him in distress at being bullied captured hearts across the world.
Quaden Bayles, who is himself Aboriginal, led out an indigenous rugby league team in an exhibition match in Queensland against New Zealand Maoris.
Quaden’s mother said he had always dreamt of being a rugby league star.
She posted the clip of him crying after he was targeted at school for dwarfism.
Celebrities offered their support, andhundreds of thousands of dollars have since been raised as part of a campaign to send him to Disneyland.
‘Best day of his life’
The National Rugby League’s Indigenous All Stars team invited Quaden to lead out the side for their match against the Maori All Stars on Saturday on the Gold Coast.
Fullback Rabbitoh Latrell Mitchell made the invitation in a video.
“We’ve got your back and just want to make sure that you are doing alright… we want you around, we want you to lead us out on the weekend,” he said.
Holding the hand of team captain Joel Thompson, Quaden led them out on to the pitch accompanied by roars from the crowd.
He then posed with the teams holding the match ball, before handing it to the referee.
The Maori All Stars won the game 30-16.
Mother Yarraka Bayles said at a news conference on Friday that Quaden was “going from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life”.
Days earlier, she had p