October 18, 2019

Australian football legend Tim Cahill to add to children’s book series


Tim Cahill: making nice children’s books, probably not thinking about Brexit (Camw, CC BY-SA 3.0 )

OK, I’ll level with you. Every week, we go through the books news looking for the most vital, interesting, controversial and otherwise blog-worthy stories. It’s fun! And the past couple of weeks have been bejewelled with absolute doozies: The Nobel Prize for Literature, The Booker Prize, Super Thursday, Frankfurt Book Fair, er, David Cameron’s autobiography, etc. etc.

All excellent blog subjects. But one thing has been buzzing away in the background of the UK for years now, providing the doom-laden background music to all of those subjects, a black hole into which every conversation inevitably falls, regardless of where it began: Brexit.

What’s happening today? We ask each other. “I have no idea!” we all say, for the millionth time. “No one does!”

Yet, as the buzz builds to a roar for the second time this year, the UK finds itself in a strange state of ultra-limbo: the news is now literally changing from minute to minute, and along with it, our emotions, our hopes, our fears … frankly, I’m tired. We’re all tired. I’m desperate to think something that isn’t about sodding Brexit. Although it appears I have been. Sorry.

Anyway, in the spirit of writing something hopeful, and well-meaning, and kind (and crucially, not about leaving the European Union), let’s talk about Australian footballer Tim Cahill and his series of children’ books instead.

Cahill is a certified superstar Down Under: he is his country’s highest scorer at international level and at the World Cup (with five goals over three tournaments). His sparkling international career has seen him play the game on four continents—including spells with UK clubs Millwall and Everton, in the US with New York Red Bulls, as well as seasons in China, Australia and India.

He announced his retirement last year, and this week told an interview with Australian channel 7 News he was using his profile to continue the work of Football for Schools, recently launching a pilot branch in the Lebanon. The scheme, he says, will “give 11 million footballs to these kids, and it’s about education, values, lifestyle, and what we can teach them.”

He also looks set to add to his children’s book series Tiny Timmy, which currently stands at eight volumes. In his 7 News interview, he explains how he drew on his own story as inspiration for the books:

“My kids are in it, my daughter’s one of the main characters … All of these stories are all part of my life, and I can tell my story through the books.”

Cahill is not the first footballer to go into children’s books: former England midfielder Frank Lampard launched his Frankie’s Magic Football series in 2013, which now stands at 20 volumes. And Alex Morgan, last seen winning the World Cup with the US womens’ team, also has a series, The Kicks, which she launched in 2012.

It seems children’s publishing is becoming an increasingly viable career for footballers, both current and retired. And it’s another example of how the sport can be a force for good—remember “good”?—in these worrying times.

Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.