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Basketball, goalball and the zoo: Jayde meets her idol

in Latest News, Stories of Independence

Welcome back to our collection of Stories of Independence. Guest writers are invited to share their own personal experiences, or express their views on the world around them.

Last year we brought you fifteen-year-old Jayde Abbott’s Story of Independence on Vimeo. Jayde joins us once again to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience: meeting one of her idols, Greg Hire.

Spend just five minutes in conversation with Jayde and it won’t take long to realise one of her passions in life, the Perth Wildcats. Earlier this year Jayde’s mum, Nicole, generously placed a bid in an auction where proceeds went to a family dealing with cancer. That bid turned Jayde’s dreams into reality.


Many vision impaired people like me are athletes or are interested in sports, whether they’re blind sports or just a sport in general.

It’s a long story, but I am a Perth Wildcat crazy fan. Perth wildcats are a basketball team who I love and support with all my heart. Greg Hire is one of the most outgoing, talkative and down to earth basketball players I’ve ever met.

My awesome Mum, Nicole, entered into an auction for Greg to spend a whole day with me. The big day was the third of June, which was a Saturday. This Saturday involved goalball, lunch with my family and Greg, meeting an elephant and just joking around figuratively and literally.

Goalball with Greg

This I must admit was an experience in itself. I have played goalball for nearly a year now and I have been very interested in getting different people to play it and experience what it’s like to play a blind sport.

Greg was very uncertain and probably lacking confidence at the point where he had to put on a blindfold and play. One of my mates Ally was also on my team. When we first started playing I thought that I was bad but when I put myself in front of the ball I was simply trying to make sure that the speed wasn’t that fast for Greg. It turned out that everyone kept aiming for him and he had one solid block with his chest.

Greg Hire with the players in Jayde's goalball team
Greg Hire with the players in Jayde’s goalball team
Lunch at the Aviary
Lunch at the Aviary

Lunch at the Aviary

After goalball my family plus Greg headed off for a fantastic but long lunch. I don’t remember how much food we ordered but I just stuck with the plain old cheeseburger and chips. Apparently everyone couldn’t eat everything because I remember my mum telling me afterwards that Greg only had half of what his main was.

Meeting an elephant and the zoo

Jayde with Greg at the zoo
Jayde with Greg at the zoo

After our fantastic and scrumptious meal we headed off to the zoo. When we got there we were taken on one of the zoo buggies to get to the elephants. We went into where they brought out Trisha who is a Malaysian elephant and is 60 years old. I was really unsure about feeding her so instead I just patted her face and side. To me she felt like a pineapple, rough and wispy with some smooth bits. Her trunk on the other hand felt like a rough piece of sandpaper.

We also saw one of the male elephants whose name escapes my memory. We watched and listened to him do many tricks including spraying water, trumpeting like a wolf whistle, kicking and batting a basketball, lying down and sitting with his front legs up in the air.

After the elephants and Greg getting warned yet again to watch his head on the buggy we went to the orangutan boardwalk. He wanted to see the orangutan and its child that escaped a week or so ago. We checked out the models of their feet and hands and compared them with mine for the laugh. Greg and I were in deep Wildcat conversation as we walked the rest of the way and stood outside of the zoo.

The little bits of magic

Along the day I got to speak to some wonderful people including Lachy Reid and Greg’s wife Ainsleigh. We also had some magical photos and laughs which hopefully will stay in my memory forever. I am glad, though, that I don’t have to put up with Greg’s dad jokes such as ‘Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants?’ The answer: “Because he had a hole in one.”

In a grateful conclusion I had the best experience and one of the best days of my life because of an awesome and amazing Greg Hire. He put up with me all day and safe to say we both talk just as much as each other. I hope in the future we can share more memories and have more hilarious goalball games together.

– Jayde Abbott


I spent a great amount of time with Jayde; this bundle of joy has impacted my life in a great way. Her competitive spirit in goalball, her willingness to get out of her comfort zone in touching an elephant for the first time, to singing in the car with an amazing voice, I’m privileged to now call Jayde a friend.” – Greg Hire