Life-saving surgery gives football official a second chance
"IT'S been a lovely journey and it hasn't finished.''
For Western Pride supporters and everyone who loves regional football, such words are music to their ears.
Pride Football Club's latest life member Kym Wickstein is on the mend having been given a second chance at life.
However, just weeks ago, it was a far different situation before he received life-saving quadruple bypass heart surgery.
Kym was told to get his financial affairs in order after receiving the words no-one wants to hear.
"To be honest, it was not looking real good,'' the football fanatic said.
"At one stage, the cardiologist came in on the Wednesday afternoon - 3.30, four o'clock - and said 'this heart is shot, there's nothing much we can do'.''
Kym, 63, was informed it was a dire predicament.
However, a lifeline offer from a specialist surgeon provided welcome hope.
"The surgeon came in the next day and said 'I think I'd be able to do at least one bypass, probably two,'' Kym said, relieved to hear that option.
As Kym was on the trolley heading for surgery, his wife Debbie was reminded how dangerous the open heart operation was.
"But he (the surgeon) said if there's something extra I can do when I've got the heart out of your chest, will you give me permission to do it?'' Kym said.
"And she said 'you're the specialist, absolutely' and he ended up doing a quadruple bypass.
"He cleaned up the lining of the arteries and actually took some of that away and then shaved off part of the heart.''
Since his four-week stint in hospital, Kym has got back on his feet, encouraged by his recent recovery at the Ipswich and West Moreton Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre.
"When I went there, they said we want to see you on the treadmill and cross trainer (machine) for five minutes . . . and I did 10 minutes on each,'' Kym said.
"So they said 'geez you've recovered pretty well'. It's good.''
The former Springfield Bank of Queensland owner/manager hopes a positive visit to the cardiologist next month provides the final all-clear he needs to "get back to normal''.
He's eager to enjoy some more time on the greens at the nearby Brookwater Golf and Country Club.
"I'll have some time up my sleeve to do a bit of that,'' the keen golfer said.
He's clearly relieved to get another shot at life.
"Absolutely,'' he said. "Sometimes you are lucky enough to get two chances, which I have.''
Receiving Western Pride's second life membership at the club's recent gala function was another boost for the recovering long-time Football Ipswich chairman and Pride club president.
"I was totally shocked by it,'' Kym said, joining general manager Pat Boyle as the only recipients of the club's highest honour.
It took plenty of scheming by Boyle and Kym's wife Debbie to ensure a recovering Kym attended the night.
Kym was told he was to present some trophies.
But after his life membership surprise, Kym was quick to share his recognition - as he always does.
"It's not a one-man band,'' the regionally-focused administrator said.
"There's so many people in the background that get the job done so the award was basically for those people as well.
"There's plenty of good things that have happened, which I'm proud to be just one of the cogs in the wheel, to help out.''
Among the people Kym has worked closely with for a number of years is another person with Pride from the club's humble beginnings in 2011.
Like Wickstein, Todd Hunt was at the forefront of securing Pride's licence in the National Premier Leagues competition for their debut 2013 season.
Both men have served vital roles with Football Ipswich and Western Pride, ensuring Ipswich's new state league club had every chance to grow.
"The respect we had for each other was crucial to how we went about setting up the club,'' Wickstein said.
"While we did have disagreements at times, we always had the mutual respect for each other, and that relationship still exists today even though Todd is no longer involved in Football Ipswich because of business reasons.
"It was a lot of strategic planning and belief in what we were doing.''
Fitzroy role in family club vision
KYM Wickstein's vision for Western Pride and regional football ironically came from his days playing another sport.
As a 17-year-old, the former Aussie rules footballer was drafted into then VFL club Fitzroy's under-19 team.
During stints playing in youth, Reserve Grade and some pre-season senior games with Fitzroy, Wickstein discovered the qualities needed to be successful.
"I came back to Queensland and realised the difference between the professionalism of the VFL and all codes here,'' he said. "I sort of modelled what I wanted to achieve and the club to achieve based on those simple philosophies.
"The greatest thing I learnt from Fitzroy - and it's something I've adhered to and our club has adhered to - is that the administrators don't get involved in the politics of senior club players' selections and trial selections. You leave that to your coaches.
"You've got to have self-belief in the coaches you've appointed.
"Coaches shouldn't dictate to the committee what they want and what's going to happen. They should be able to communicate and consult with us.
"In our case, we've been very fortunate.''
As for why the long-serving club president and latest life member loves Western Pride, Wickstein answers aptly.
"It's because we've stuck to our principles to make it a family friendly club and try to do the best by giving kids an opportunity to play at the highest level in Ipswich, for an Ipswich club. And that's what I'm really proud of.''
MUST READ: How Western Pride rose from humble beginnings to become a championship-winning club - see special online feature tomorrow and in Saturday's QT.