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South Australian football star, Josh Jenkins (b. 1989), was in foster care from the age of two. 

When Josh was two years old, he and his baby sister, Jenna, were placed with Edith and George Casey. The couple had already raised six children of their own and lived on a hobby farm in Swan Hill, Victoria. When Josh was four and a half, the couple became permanent carers for the siblings, now including a younger brother, Jordan. 

Josh had a very positive experience in care. Edith, who Josh calls ‘Grandma’, is one of his biggest supporters. According to Edith, when George passed away – Josh was in Year 7 – the couple’s adult children stepped in to help.

They took to these three like anything, even though they were all married with their own kids by then. If I didn’t have that I don’t think I could have done it on my own (The Age).

As a child, Josh loved playing basketball. However, he experienced some hostility from other families because he was a foster child. There were also times he felt isolated and disappointed because other players had parents who came to their games, but Edith had to stay home with Josh’s siblings. 

She did her best, she was always on top of everything we did. But small things could be a bit difficult – father-son matches at junior footy, that sort of stuff. Awkward’s probably the word (The Age).

As a teenager, Josh moved to Townsville to play basketball and stayed with an aunty, uncle and cousins. He toured the US playing basketball with the Townsville Crocodiles, and later joined the Mt Gambier Pioneers. He then returned to Swan Hill to join the local footy club, the Lake Boga Magpies.

Paul Gadsden, the club’s president at the time, describes tremendous hometown pride for Josh Jenkins.

The town is very proud of what Josh has achieved because it is not a traditional story as he did not find his way into the (AFL) system until his 20s. He still contributes to our community. He is very, very well regarded here. He has never lost his connection to his hometown (Herard Sun).

Josh attributes his successful football career results from the stability, nurture, and encouragement his foster mother, Edith Casey, provided. He went on to play for Essendon, the Adelaide Crows, and the Geelong Cats before retiring from football in 2021. He was an All Australian nominee in 2016, a member of Adelaide’s 2017 grand final line-up, and Adelaide’s leading goalkicker in 2018. Jenkins was selected by the Cats in the 2019 national draft, and booted 19 goals in 24 games at VFL level.

Since retiring from professional football, Josh has more time to focus on his family, including his wife Hannah, and their three young daughters.

References: 

Hanlon, Peter. “Josh Jenkins’ heartwarming Mother’s Day tale.” The Age, 10 May 2014. https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/josh-jenkins-heartwarming-mothers-day-tale-20140510-zr8s0.html 

Hough, Andrew. “AFL Finals 2016: Adelaide Crows star Josh Jenkins’ elderly grandma cheering on from Swan Hill.” Herald Sun, 4 September 2014. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/teams/adelaide/afl-finals-2016-adelaide-crows-star-josh-jenkins-elderly-grandma-cheering-on-from-swan-hill/news-story/eb6188e9e9c0a2590341e537492d3abb

Oates, Stacey. “Jenkins Calls Time, Cats Cut Two.” Geelong Cats, 17 September 2021. https://www.geelongcats.com.au/news/1017778/cats-calls-time-cut-two

Image available here.