Good morning and welcome to this special Father’s Day breakfast at Salesian College. My name is Kevin Kalinko and I am honoured to be sharing some thoughts and experiences with you this morning.
Before I begin, I want to let you know that I read this speech to my wife earlier in the week and her feedback was that the speech is boring, repetitive and possibly the worst speech she has ever heard. She expressed gratefulness that she is not in the audience this morning. As for the rest of you, well, you are my captives for the next 55 minutes!
I wear many hats, but today I wear the hat I am most proud of – that of a father. My long suffering wife Shelly and I have three sometimes wonderful kids, Zac who is 18, Maya who is 16 and Zoe who is 13. I am also a son to a wonderful father, Stan. The third hat today that I am wearing is as a director of the Liverpool Football Club International Academy here in Australia.
Today, we gather not only to celebrate the remarkable bond between fathers and their children, but also to reflect on the values that shape our lives – the Salesian values, the essence of Father’s Day, and we will also find a way to bring in the guiding principles of the illustrious Liverpool Football Club.
Salesian College is deeply rooted in the teachings of Saint John Bosco, whose mission was to educate and guide young minds with love, compassion, and wisdom. These Salesian values have been the cornerstone of the College, shaping students into compassionate individuals who strive for excellence in all aspects of life. These values remind us to be welcoming, respectful, and supportive, much like the way fathers unconditionally love and guide their children. Just as Saint John Bosco envisioned, Salesian College aims to build a community that values education, character development, and the nurturing of strong relationships.
Speaking of nurturing relationships, today’s celebration of Father’s Day serves as a reminder of the immeasurable role fathers play in our lives. Father’s Day is a day to honor not just biological fathers, but also father figures who inspire us, protect us, and instill values that guide us throughout our journey. Fathers are amongst our first teachers of life’s valuable lessons – patience, courage, dedication, and love. In embodying these virtues, fathers mirror the very essence of the Salesian values, fostering growth, understanding, and respect within the family unit and beyond.
I want to share a short story about Harry the pilot.
Fortunately Harry had been trained in the very best pilot school
Unfortunately Harry’s plane on this fateful day had engine trouble
Fortunately Harry had been taught to prepare for this very situation
Unfortunately In the panic, Harry forgot all of his training
Fortunately Harry found a parachute in the airplane
Unfortunately Harry couldn’t work out how to open the parachute
Fortunately There was a hay stack directly underneath where Harry was falling
Unfortunately There was also a pitchfork in the haystack
Fortunately Harry missed the pitchfork
Unfortunately Harry also missed the haystack!
The story of Harry the pilot reminds us that life can have its ups and downs. One minute everything is going perfectly and the next minute our world is turned on its head. We are all Harry the pilot and need to be prepared for the challenges that life presents us.
I was born in South Africa and we moved to Australia when I was 7. I didn’t realise it at the time, but my father made one of the biggest sacrifices of his life at that time, at the age of 40. The political instability in South Africa and the requirement for all boys aged 18 years to go into the army and fight an unjust war – which would have enlisted my three brothers and I, were sufficient reasons for my parents to consider leaving South Africa. When we arrived in Australia, my father had great difficulty finding work. My father’s first job saw him earning $15,000 per year – which was less than just the school fees that my parents paid for my three brothers and I to go to school in Sydney. Whereas my father was likely to continue to thrive in South Africa, my parents made the ultimate sacrifice for us, their children, to come to Australia. I will forever be grateful to my parents for the opportunities that they gave my brothers and I. My mother used to joke that the first 35 years after migrating are the hardest. Life was hard in Australia in those early years – but the sacrifice my parents made for their children was more important.
In many respects, my father was Harry the pilot, except thankfully in the end – he managed to land in the bundle of hay.
My message to the children in the audience is be aware of the sacrifice that your parents make for you. Be grateful and appreciative for the opportunities your parents offer to you and return the favour by making your bed, stacking the dishwasher and recognising their love.
My wife’s grandparents arrived in Australia at the end of the second world war as refugees. They had no money, no family, no English and couldn’t communicate and no support network. My wife’s late grandmother often spoke of the generosity of strangers in the Sydney community in taking them in and ensuring that they were able to settle into life in Sydney. I promised myself that I would try and be as generous as those strangers were to my wife’s grandparents if the opportunity ever arose. When the Ukraine war commenced in February last year, I realised that there were people in Ukraine who would need to leave Ukraine. I am humbled to say that together with a group of like minded people, we rose to the challenge and helped to bring four families to Australia. Through contacts of ours in Europe, we were able to make contact with families that wanted to come to Australia and helped them to leave Ukraine. Each time we collected a family at Sydney airport I was moved to see them exit the plane with nothing more than a small bag containing their reminaing belongings. Their entire lives had been turned upside down and when they had to leave their homes in the dead of night, they didn’t have the luxury of packing up their homes and filling containers with their possessions. They grabbed the items that were important to them and fled. It was a reminder to me each time we collected a family from the airport that the physical possessions we accumulate are really meaningless at the end of the day. What car we drive, what brand of clothes we wear – is irrelevant. When these families packed small bags – they took photos, family memorabilia and items they could sell when they got here.
Our little group helped these families to find shelter, work, schools for their children and helped to navigate the Australian refugee system. One of these families said to me that when they celebrated new years in 2022, they had no idea that just two months later they would be helpless refugees in a foreign land. These families were also Harry the pilot. One minute living a good life in Ukraine, the next refugees in Australia. Nothing has given me greater satisfaction than to see these families settle in Sydney and find their feet. I often think of the sacrifice my father made to come to Australia – but this pales in significance to the sacrifice that these Ukrainian families had to make to ensure a better and safer life for their children.
Father’s Day serves as a timely reminder to pause and reflect on the things around us we often take for granted. It’s a day to express our gratitude for the invaluable guidance father figures provide us, much like the guidance that Saint John Bosco envisioned for his students. Father’s Day encourages us to celebrate our fathers as well as our mentors, teachers, and role models who mirror the Salesian values of nurturing growth and fostering a sense of belonging.
Let me take you back to when I was 18 years old.
I realised there and then that my father’s sacrifice of coming to Australia couldn’t end with me becoming a rice paddy farmer in Bali, and so I headed home, in a hurry and unmarried. The love of the village chief for his daughter and his desire to create a future for her is no different to what any father would do for their children. Even if it meant marrying me!
And now, let’s bridge our celebration of fathers with the spirit of one of the most illustrious football clubs – Liverpool Football Club. LFC, like Salesian College, has a rich tradition that revolves around values deeply ingrained in its culture. The values of ambition, commitment, dignity and unity form the foundation of LFC’s success on and off the field. These values are not just confined to the realm of sports; they echo the Salesian values of community, excellence, and integrity that are upheld here at Salesian College.
Liverpool Football Club has shown us that through collective effort, perseverance, and a shared passion, great achievements can be realized. Just as fathers stand as pillars of support, both on the pitch and in our lives, Liverpool FC’s legacy teaches us to stand by each other, working together to achieve our goals and overcoming challenges with resilience.
The irony of all of this on Father’s Day is that my son Zac is huge Tottenham Hotspurs fan and expresses his disappointment in my contractual relationship with Liverpool on a regular basis. Suffice to say, when the fixture reads Liverpool v Tottenham – there is some real tension in the house! Let me also add that the better team generally wins these games much to his disappointment!
As we celebrate Father’s Day, Salesian values, and the ideals of Liverpool Football Club, let us remember that the essence of these values lies in our daily actions. Let us carry forward the spirit of camaraderie, empathy, and dedication that fathers and these institutions embody. Let us honor our fathers by embracing the values they’ve instilled in us, extending them to our peers, and nurturing a positive environment that fosters growth and harmony.
The legacy of LFC, much like the teachings of Saint John Bosco, reminds us of the power of unity, teamwork, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence. The motto “You’ll Never Walk Alone” embodies the sense of community and support that both fathers and the Salesian family represent.
The journey of Liverpool FC mirrors the stories of our fathers and educators. Just as fathers provide guidance and unwavering support, LFC’s journey is marked by the collective effort of individuals working towards a shared goal. The club’s values echo the lessons fathers teach us – the importance of standing tall in the face of challenges, conducting ourselves with integrity, and striving for greatness even when the odds seem against us.
In celebrating the confluence of these values, we recognize that life is not just a linear journey but a tapestry of experiences. There are moments of triumph and moments of uncertainty, moments of joy and moments of tribulation. The Salesian values of optimism and determination empower us to tackle these moments head-on, just as fathers and the LFC ethos inspire us to push forward in the face of adversity.
As we come together and celebrate, let us remember the threads that weave Salesian values, Father’s Day values, and the ideals of Liverpool Football Club. Let us cherish the uniqueness of how these values shape our lives, enrich our experiences, and challenge us to grow both individually and collectively.
In closing, I invite you all to reflect on the Salesian values that shape our journey, the profound influence of fathers and father figures in our lives, and the inspiring ideals of Liverpool Football Club. May we continue to strive for excellence, embrace compassion, and stand united as a community, just as fathers, Salesian principles, and LFC have taught us. And if you ever come across that village chief from Bali, please don’t ever tell him I was here!
Thank you, and happy Father’s Day!
Owner at Australian College of Physical Education