‘Absolutely devastating’: Rising Cairns AFL star mourned
Described as a rising star of the competition, the entire AFL Cairns community are mourning the sudden loss of talented teenager McLoffty Gaidan.
Just 17 years of age, Gaidan died over the weekend with his passing sending shockwaves through the local AFL fraternity as he had links to a number of clubs.
The fleet-footed utility was apart of the Gold Coast Suns Academy and made his senior debut for Saints in 2019.
Gaidan started his football journey with South Cairns at Fretwell Park, before crossing to Saints for a few seasons, where he made his mark as a footballer of the future, before heading back to the Cutters in 2020.
AFL Cairns operations manager Craig Lees, who also coached Gaidan when he did part-time work with the Suns a few years ago, says the entire league are devastated with the loss of McLoffty.
"He was a young star," Lees said.
"The entire league's thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and current teammates and past.
"McLoffty was a well loved teammate and respected by all opposition players.
"He was a player that lit up Cazalys Stadium at finals times, this upcoming finals won't be the same."
Cairns Saints president Craig Hards said Gaidan had a closeknit group of friends at the club and was rarely seen without teammates Oakley Wallace and Austin Harris.
"Oakley Wallace and his family really took him under his wing when he was at Saints," Hards said.
"He was a quiet kid, but he was a very good kid.
"He played in the premiership with us in 2019 in the colts and would have played more senior footy if not for hurting his ankle.
"It is so sad what has happened and as a club, we will be in contact with the family and try and help out in any way."
AFL Cairns were on Monday working through the process of postponing a number of junior finals this week to allow families to grieve the sudden and unexpected loss.
Gaidan's colts side were set to play his old team, Saints, on Wednesday night at Cazalys.
He had played eight colts games this season, kicking one goal, but was yet to feature in a seniors or reserves game for the Cutters.
The two colts semi-finals were set to be played on Wednesday evening and now are likely to be pushed back a week, with the youth girls competition potentially doing the same.
Gaidan also has family members playing at a number of clubs in the upcoming junior finals.
"He is too connected to everyone and people need time to grieve," Lees said.
John Deitz, the GC Suns' North Queensland Academy Manager, says Gaidan had a bright future in the game.
"He had all the traits of an elite footballer," Deitz said.
"We are all feeling for his family and his mates, they are all shattered.
"He was a super talented kid."
AFL Queensland's regional manager Kieran Daley says it was "absolutely devastating" for all involved.
"He was a quality young man who had so much talent. We send our thoughts to his family and friends and support them the best we can. Football is a community and we need to look after each other," Daley said.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
Originally published as 'Absolutely devastating': Rising Cairns AFL star mourned