By Chris Curulli
Many may know Michael Symons as an experienced football player and treble-winning coach with Brookvale FC, but his life experiences span far beyond football grounds across the Northern Beaches.
Michael is the founder of the Cobra and Mongoose charity which aims to ‘tackle poverty head-on’ across the globe.
Locally, he has enjoyed over 15 years representing both Avalon and Brookvale, playing as a left-sided defender.
Symons also enjoyed a successful stint coaching, leading Brookvale during a historic 1995 season where they took home the MWFA Cup and were crowned Association and State Champions.
With COVID travel restrictions currently reducing Michael’s capacity to work, at the age of 62 he has recently reunited with some old Brookvale teammates in the O45/1 competition for what he says may be his last season before hanging up the boots.
“It’s been a nice homecoming of sorts, this will probably be my last year but it’s nice to catch up with some old mates again,” Symons said.
Symons founded the Cobra and Mongoose Charity Group in 2003 after a visit to Sri Lanka where he was deeply moved by the witnessing the atrocious conditions faced by victims of civil war in the nation.
His first philanthropic move was to support the building of a Sinhalese girl’s orphanage before progressively expanding to projects supporting thousands across Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
“Some of my teammates do know what I’ve been doing but others would not actually have a clue, because I’ve only just joined in the last few weeks,” Symons said.
“The charity started 18 years ago and has been a big part of my life with from soccer being an outlet around all of the projects.
“Over the years I’ve enjoyed doing that and still being able to play every season.
“That’s a part of my life that I will probably pursue even further when I finish up playing soccer.”
Football has indeed granted Michael some memorable moments over the years.
Looking back, the treble-winning season of 1995 and experiences playing a handful of first grade matches for Brookvale are his two standouts.
While his playing and coaching days appear close to their end, Symons is excited to participate in an enjoyable 2020 season.
“I’ll always have an interesting in soccer – you can’t stop having a look at a game here and there.
“I’m so lucky how my life is about has evolved. I love the camaraderie that you have within a team and coming back to Brookie has been a great way to finish off, if this is my last year.”
Michael’s selfless work with Cobra and Mongoose has fostered his remarkable outlook on life.
“It puts everything into perspective. When you’re down sometimes you just have to think about how lucky we are living in our country.
“Being lucky enough to live in a country like this we have the capacity to break down barriers and make a difference to people in other parts of the world.
“The charity are still keeping in contact with all of our projects so they’re not forgotten and it’s a matter of hoping they can survive over the next year and a half before we get back to some form of normality.”
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