Warrick Stuart.
Warrick Stuart. Contributed

Tributes flow for 'larger than life' Bundy footballer

TRIBUTES are flowing for a young Bundaberg footballer whose vibrant and spontaneous life ended all too soon on Saturday.

Warrick Stuart was a much-loved local who made his mark on the football field both locally and around the country.

Warrick, 21, tragically took his own life on Saturday night, leaving friends and family shell-shocked.

Social media has been flooded with tributes, with many people still coming to terms with the loss of such a bright young soul.

Mum Chrisy Stuart said her middle-born son enjoyed life and described him as somewhat of a gypsy, never staying in one spot for too long.

"He was just larger than life," dad Scott Stuart said.

"He was a ratbag, but everything he touched he did very well at. He was very athletic."

 

The Waves Warrick Stuart in action.
The Waves Warrick Stuart in action. Mike Knott BUN090618SOCCER5

Warrick had recently returned from Perth, where he had trialled for a soccer club.

The sportsman had also previously lived at the Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Melbourne playing the sport he loved, but Mrs Stuart said he always found his way back home.

"When he got to Warrigal it was raining and freezing in January or something so he said he'll come back and play for Across the Waves because it was too cold and awful down there," she said.

In the past four seasons Warrick made 56 appearances in the Wide Bay Premier League. In 2017 he represented the South West Queensland Thunder in the National Premier League and in 2015 played in the same competition for Townsville-based Northern Fury.

Last year Warrick also took out The Waves' Antonio Castro award for being the best player of the year.

"He could do anything, but it was just that soccer was his big love," Mrs Stuart said.

The mother-of-three said her son's career path changed as often as the weather, having been employed most recently as a truck driver, and previously as a radio announcer, a groundsman, labourer and then a salesman at Toyota.

 

BROTHERS: Warrick, Ryan and Jack Stuart enjoyed skiing and wake boarding on the river.
BROTHERS: Warrick, Ryan and Jack Stuart enjoyed skiing and wake boarding on the river. contributed

"He wasn't even there three months and was the second-top sales person," she said.

"But then he didn't have time for surfing, so he gave that a miss.

"He liked the work-life balance... he enjoyed just going somewhere and talking himself into a job."

Mr and Mrs Stuart said their son also had once held hopes of becoming a mechanic and then a jockey at one time too.

Born in Mackay on December 2, 1997, Warrick was raised on a cattle station in Nebo until the family made the move to Bundaberg in 2005.

Educated at Avoca and Wallaville state primary schools and then into senior schooling at Shalom College and Bundaberg State High meant Warrick made a lot of friends.

"Although I think he enjoyed lunchtime more so he could talk to girls," Mrs Stuart said.

Mr Stuart said his son was a cheeky kid who always had an answer for everything.

"All his teachers, every one of them would come up and say, 'Me and Warrick have this special relationship,' and we'd go, 'Oh do you?' - we wouldn't tell them the last two teachers had just said the same thing to us," Mrs Stuart said.

 

CHASE: The Waves player Warrick Stuart runs the ball down at The Waves sports ground.
CHASE: The Waves player Warrick Stuart runs the ball down at The Waves sports ground. TAHLIA STEHBENS

A stand-out memory was the time Warrick came home from school, no older than five, with a rain-maker he'd crafted from popsicle sticks, cardboard and glue.

"It was about 2002 and we were in one of the worst droughts we ever had," Mr Stuart said. "So he came home from school with a rain maker... and he made it rain."

Mrs Stuart said it rained and poured for three days straight.

"We always joke that's when his God-complex started," she laughed.

"He thought he was so good that he'd made it rain."

Mrs Stuart said her son had become somewhat withdrawn at home recently, but was still going out, being social and had been making plans for the future. "So you know, it doesn't matter how many friends you've got," she said.

Across the Waves football club made a statement on their Facebook page saying Warrick would be missed by many.

"Warrick was a much-loved player at our club winning numerous awards but more importantly, he will be remembered for being a champion bloke," the post read.

The Stuart family thanked ATW Division 1 players for their support through this difficult time, and urged anybody struggling with depression to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.



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