Our daughters deserve the right to be close to their fathers
OPINION: Big week. A chance to play again, a valuable insight into the malevolent side of social media and an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of being a father after the circus regarding my protective embrace of my eight-year-old daughter before the Legendroos match.
I'm fortunate in being able to experience the situation calmly because as a former Socceroo and long-time media professional, not only is much of it a daily occurrence, my position gives me the ability to react and respond as necessary.
What has left me concerned though, is what happens to those without these advantages? How are lives affected when this filth occurs without the right of reply or the skills and experience to manage the situation?
Nothing can diminish the pleasure of playing again. They were wonderful times playing for Australia, magical memories that flood back when we take the field together again.
And despite a disgusting turn of events, I was touched by the responses I received over the past days from parents, mostly fathers, and that led me from an indifference to this sort of garbage, to action.
Messages from fathers who feel, as I do, that our relationships with our daughters are incredibly important. We invest immense energy and emotion to build and maintain our relationships with our children as an antidote to the modern world with threats we never had to contend with, and many we don't comprehend. It's extremely worrying as parents.
My physical and emotional support for my nervous daughter in front of 40,000 people as I held and kissed her and told her everything would be well was important for her. As fathers we are the source of safety and security and it is important that the reprehensible treatment of the simple act of a father's love and protection does not ever deter us from this instinct. After reading the powerlessness many feel about the issue, I feel a responsibility to respond and to retaliate.
The problem is a lack of accountability. Whereas in public life, and certainly in real life interaction we are accountable for our words and threats, in social media there appears none.
Tweets deleted. Facebook posts removed.
I may be a public figure and a willing target, but my daughter and yours deserve the right to be close to their fathers, a connection that is fundamental to a child's psychological welfare.
So to every young player, may you know that every difficulty is worth the extraordinary feeling of being a former Socceroo.
To the fathers who love your children, continue to care for, protect them and show your love freely. It's the most powerful gift we can give.
To those willing to prey on moments involving innocent children, on behalf of all parents and countless fathers of precious daughters, by your comments you are damned.
And as for our three children, including our eight-year-old who thankfully is blissfully unaware, I assure you they continue to receive endless hugs and kisses every day to their occasional and poorly feigned frustration. More so, in fact, after recent events.