Ben Cousins is still shaking off a persistent hamstring injury, but he proved to be a team player this weekend when he showed up with his daughter and a mystery woman to watch his park footy club seal a Grand Final victory.
The Queens Park Bulldogs had a convincing win against rivals Koongamia at John Dunn Memorial Park in Perth, Western Australia, on Sunday afternoon.
Cousins, whose short career with the club has been hampered by injuries, cheered from the sidelines with his ‘sporty mini-me’ daughter, Angelique, as his teammates dominated.
Looking happy and healthy, Cousins clutched a football and piggy-backed the seven-year-old around the field for about two hours.
At one stage, Cousins ran around with a group of children, smiling as he kicked the ball and chased them.
‘There were lots of smiles and laughs,’ an onlooker told Daily Mail Australia. ‘He looked like a great dad.’
Cousins dressed casually in loose jeans and a plain white t-shirt, while Angelique wore a matching pink, black and white tracksuit with her hair in long braids.
Ben Cousins is still shaking off an injury, but he proved to be a team player this weekend when he showed up to watch his park footy club seal a Grand Final victory with his seven-year-old daughter, Angelique (pictured together)
An unknown woman wore large aviator sunglasses as she stood alongside the duo, chatting easily as the afternoon wore on
An unknown woman wore large aviator sunglasses as she stood alongside the duo, chatting easily as the afternoon wore on.
The group stayed for the entire afternoon game, which kicked off about 3pm local time, and left together in the woman’s car.
Bulldogs officials had hoped the former AFL star would return to the field this year, but a hamstring injury prevented Cousins from making an appearance in finals.
Even without Cousins, the Bulldogs fielded a near full-strength reserves team which has won the premiership five out of the last six years.
He’ll likely return next year after a full off-season of recovery and training, Daily Mail Australia understands.
While his return to football has been beneficial in recovering from a longtime drug addiction, Cousins is most focused on rebuilding his relationship with Angelique and her older brother, Bobby.
Ben Cousins settled in nicely to his new local footy club after making a remarkable comeback from a harrowing meth addiction. He was unable to play on Sunday due to an ongoing hamstring injury
Cousins dressed casually in loose jeans and a plain white t-shirt, while Angelique wore a matching pink, black and white tracksuit with her hair in long braids
Looking happy and healthy, Cousins clutched a football and piggy-backed the seven-year-old around the field
Susan Backshell, who has acted as a mentor for Cousins since his last stint on jail, told Daily Mail Australia that he remains solely focused on his kids.
Sitting in a cold, cramped jail cell for the sixth time in 13 years, Cousins had finally decided enough was enough after seven months behind bars in 2020.
He was ashamed and desperately ready for a fresh start, buoyed by the knowledge that getting clean and healthy was the key to being a dad to his children.
The 43-year-old told her he wanted to make amends and clean up his life. Ms Backshell gave him an ultimatum: ‘Give it his all, or forget it entirely’.
Since Cousins was released from custody back in December, Ms Backshell says she’s never once questioned his commitment to sobriety and bettering his community.
‘His kids are everything to him, he truly is an amazing dad. He’s phenomenal,’ Cousins’ mentor Ms Backshell said
Cousins returned to park footy after a seven-month prison stint in 2020, determined to turn his life around
Ms Backshell has worked with people like Cousins for years – and says the former AFL megastar is the real deal
Ms Backshell said Cousins now has his kids of a weekend and is always looking for new ways to bond with them.
‘His kids are everything to him, he truly is an amazing dad. He’s phenomenal,’ Ms Backshell said.
Cousins often takes the children outside to explore nature, teaching them how to kayak, ride horses and embrace the great outdoors.
‘They adore him. They’re very sporty too, like him. They’re like little mini-me’s. They’ve got his determination. I see a lot of him in them.’
That admiration and love between Cousins and Angelique was evident on Sunday as they joked, laughed and played at the fields all afternoon.
The admiration and love between Cousins and Angelique was evident on Sunday as they joked, laughed and played at the fields all afternoon
Cousins looked happy and healthy on Sunday as he watched his team from the sidelines
It might just be his first season with the Bulldogs, but he’s quickly become ‘one of the boys’ among his teammates
The 43-year-old won the Brownlow Medal in 2005 and captained the West Coast Eagles from 2001 to 2005, securing the club’s best and fairest awards four out of those seasons.
His dramatic fall from grace was well documented from 2007 as he publicly battled a drug addiction and coped with his failed relationship with Maylea Tinecheff.
But earlier this year, Cousins reached out to the Perth club, indicating he’d like to get back to playing his best footy after a seven month stint in jail.
His presence has boosted morale and reinvigorated the local footy club, who now enjoy crowds upwards of 1,000 when, before, they’d be lucky to get 150 on a weekend.
Another spokesman said Cousins has been ‘sensational’ at the club and great for morale.
The mother-of-four visited Cousins (pictured together) in jail in 2020 – five years after she was first told she could be a good influence on his life
More than 90 per cent of the players at the club are Indigenous, and Queens Park president Ross White said at times it was difficult to garner community interest in the team
‘We have several fellas in similar situations that he had. He is always kicking the footy with our kids and always has no hesitation to have his photo taken with anyone.’
It might just be his first season with the Bulldogs, but he’s quickly become ‘one of the boys’ among his teammates.
Two games into his season, he’d already become the club’s most injured player and by far the most popular at games.
Crowds gather to ask Cousins for photos at the conclusion of each match – win or lose – and he is happy to oblige.
Cousins played 238 games and booted 205 goals for the West Coast Eagles, where he won a premiership with the club in 2006.
He was later sacked and copped a one year ban from the AFL for repeated infringements.
Cousins was a Brownlow medal winner and captained the West Coast Eagles from 2001 to 2005, securing the club’s best and fairest awards four out of those seasons