The Miracle Kick
The impossible $100,000 shot that stopped a nation.
Three-quarter time is a crucial moment in an AFL game. It’s the last stoppage: the final chance to strategise defence or plan an attack, to rally the team and define the path to victory. But this was no ordinary game.
The GWS GIANTS’ 100th game, played on home turf in a local derby against the Sydney Swans, was a landmark moment, a coming of age.
In the sheds and surrounded by his players, GIANTS coach Leon Cameron was building to a crescendo in his final speech. Readying the team to defend a 20-point lead, an explosive cheer rang out from the stand, interrupting him.
Outside on the pitch, Sydney man Paul Waterhouse was hugging his family and leaping with joy. He had just earned $100,000 and the admiration of a sold-out stadium of fans.
Earlier that afternoon, Paul had participated in Toyo Tires’ on-site social media activation. Posting a selfie with his family of his best game face to Instagram with the hashtag #DRIVENTOPERFORM, he entered a contest with hundreds of other fans.
First prize? The chance to kick a football into a stack of four Toyo tyres from 40 metres away at three-quarter time, with every eye in the house on you.
Forty metres from his target, Paul lined up a drop punt and went for it. The ball, heading straight and true, stuttered on the top of the stack before dropping in. The capacity crowd gave him the loudest cheer of the night.
Something that seemed almost impossible moments before had just happened.
Appearing on television program The Project to discuss the miracle kick, Waterhouse was understandably jubilant.
“I had plenty of kicking practice with my brother growing up, but I had no idea when I arrived at the game that I was going to be kicking in front of a full house for $100 grand,” he said.
After finding out he won the opportunity to have shot at quarter time, Paul immediately went and practised his kicking.
“When they put my name on the scoreboard at quarter time I was so nervous. I went and found a young kid outside with a Sherrin and practised kicking the footy with him.
“When you get out there it’s a whole different world: the crowd’s around you, and you’re trying to adapt to the lights. I said to myself ‘you’ve got one shot, just go long and high’.”
The GIANTS, driven to perform by a buzzing crowd, went on to topple the Swans by 105 points to 63.