The feel-good story of the weekend was the return of Eljae to the football field and his team the Manurewa Marlins.

The 10-year-old subjected to sideline bullying last weekend. Too fat, too slow, and letting down his team, one mother said.

So eight days ago his mother Rochelle took to Facebook and asked for an end to sideline abuse directed at her son over his size. It went viral with overwhelming support. "Good on you bro," everyone said.

And so they should. He's been playing for just a month. He's giving it a go and there is no need for people to belittle a kid like that.


Good on Mum for standing up to the people that call her son names and good on the people who have supported Eljae and Rochelle. But this whole week I've been interested in how the elephant in the room was being ignored.

The fact of the matter is that Eljae is obese. Markedly so. That's not an insult, that's a fact. And someone needs to own that. And it may be the Mum, who is basking in the success in fighting sideline bullying. But is she able to stand up and be counted for the reasons why Eljae is in the shape he's in.

It appears to me that as a nation we're more concerned about being called fat than we are of actually being fat. And isn't that the core of the problem?

Some might call it being PC. I think it's more a problem of being wilfully ignorant of the real problem because it's hard but at the same time it's simple. It's our diet and our exercise.

READ MORE: Cheers for Eljae as he returns to play footy

Eljae and his Mum are starting to attack the exercise part of the equation. Good on them, but I have seen no discussion whatsoever about what Eljae's family has put into his 10-year-old body that gives him such a pronounced 'spare tyre'.

We've talked sugar taxes and lately we've talked about banning fast food outlets near schools and Robyn Toomath has even talked about picketing burger joints. But no one is holding a gun to your head saying eat this crap.

It's your mouth. Don't put rubbish in it. Own it. We need to frame the discussion to the right level of cruelty to be kind.


Andrew Dickens is a Sunday morning Newstalk ZB broadcaster.
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