An open letter to Ben Barba
By Matt Attard (Life-long Bulldogs fan and member)
AS a life-long die-hard Bulldogs member and fan, it pains me to be sitting here writing this letter.
Ben Barba, the Canterbury superstar that the club raised and nurtured from a very young age when no other club wanted a bar of him, has asked for a release to return to Queensland.
From a selfish point of view, filled with heartbreak and anger – how dare you Ben. How dare you stab the club in the back after what they have done for you? They have turned you into a representative star, a Dally M medallist and a hell of a good person (or so we thought).
To go on television and parade yourself around as someone who “wants to finish my career in Queensland” while donning the proud blue and white colours is so hurtful. It’s a dagger to the heart of the Bulldogs faithful who have chanted your name for years on end.
How are the little kids who wear the Bulldogs jerseys with “Barba” etched across the back suppose to understand that you don’t want to play for the Bulldogs? Why don’t you want to give your all for the club? Why don’t you want to stay and win premierships with the team that made you what you are? What have we done wrong to you?
You may say it’s about family and that you’re thankful to the club for what they’ve done, but that means nothing if you are to just up and leave mid-contract. It’s a spit in the face of us all.
Now, onto a not-so-selfish point of view – good on you.
Good on you for coming out and being honest. If you have of kept everything a secret until d-day I think everyone would have a much harsher opinion of you, Ben.
The fact that you publically acknowledged your problems of being home sick, of having gambling and alcohol issues, of breaking up your relationship with the mother of your children and of wanting to be the best father you can is commendable.
At the end of the day people need to remember that this is just rugby league. Yes, for many, including myself, it’s more than a sport. It’s our family. It’s a way of life. But taking a step back, there are far more important things in the world to worry about.
One of those more important things is the fact we have a father who is in desperate need of being he best man he can for his children while still wanting to work in the business (and I use the term business because that is what rugby league has become) that he loves.
People will accuse you, Ben, of orchestrating this whole plot simply to earn more money with a Queensland club and that if you really wanted to then you would stay at the Bulldogs. That’s up to the individual to believe what they want to believe.
What do I believe? I’d like to think that you do hold the Bulldogs close to your heart and that you would have loved to have stayed at the club. I genuinely believe that.
But I also believe that you have a big heart and love your children to death, which is something every father should do. You want to spend as much time with them as possible and the only foreseeable way that you’re able to do that is to move back north with them and their mother.
And for that reason, as nothing more than one single member and fan of the club, I have nothing but praise and thanks for you Ben.
I praise you for, under such difficult circumstances, doing what you think is best and going about it in the right way, to try and get the best outcome for all involved.
I thank you for the years of service you’ve given the club and helping us to grow both on and off the field and I thank you for coming out and being honest with everyone.
As much as it hurts to hear you say that you want to leave, I can understand the reasons behind it and think that they are genuine.
Pushing aside my anger of losing arguably the best player in the game to another club and the sadness of having to see you wear another clubs colours I remember that this is just a game of football and in the end there is no one player that is bigger than the club.
Good luck Ben and thank you again for everything. I wish nothing but the best for you and your two little girls and hope that you remain a Bulldog at heart.