Rochelle Mara of New Zealand cheered for her 10-year-old son Eljae as he played in an April 22 rugby match. He was wearing his No. 8 jersey. As Mara watched the game from the sidelines, she overheard another mom insulting Eljae. She said she heard the mom describe him as a "big boy" who was not "an asset to the team."
Mara had heard enough, so she approached the woman.
"She was taken aback and didn't know how to respond, so I said, 'Look, if you're not going to be here to support the whole team, you probably shouldn't be here at all,'" Mara told Us Weekly.
The woman walked away, but Mara wasn't finished. She posted an empowering message on Facebook as an open letter to the woman, and included a photo of Eljae in his jersey.
"Can I just remind you, [that] Eljae is out there training with his TEAM twice a week, he turns up every weekend to play alongside his TEAM, the same team your kid plays for! Eljae is out there on that field supporting your son in the game just as I'm out on that sideline supporting them — your son included," Mara wrote on Facebook.
Mara told Stuff.co.nz that she posted the Facebook message because she was tired of hearing "stories of so many kids being discriminated against for their size and their colour."
"So please — for the love of Beyonce — stand there on that sideline along with the rest of us parents and support OUR boys and girls! ALL OF THEM," she said.
After Mara's Facebook post went viral, she showed her son a few of the positive comments. According to Us Weekly, Eljae "was blown away and could not wipe the smile from his face."
Liam Messam, a professional rugby player with the New Zealand national men's rugby union team, shared Mara's message on his Instagram page with a powerful introduction: "We need to be there to support our kids, not tear them down."