Rochelle Mara was standing on the sidelines proudly watching her 10-year-old son, Eljae, play rugby when an ugly comment drew her attention away from the April 22 match in New Zealand. “I overheard a woman speaking to another person about a boy, who she felt was slowing the team down,” Mara tells Us Weekly. “She wondered why they would let a big boy play in the first place.” When Mara realized they were talking about Eljae, she unleashed her maternal wrath.

“I said to the woman, No. 8 is my son!” Mara tells Us. “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.' ” Instead of apologizing, the woman remained silent and simply walked away.

Later that afternoon, Mara recounted the shameful incident in a Facebook post. It has since gone viral with 144,000 likes and more than 18,000 comments. In the open letter, the office receptionist writes, “Number 8, Eljae. My boy. The one you so freely stood on the sideline this morning laughing at. The one you were talking about being a 'Big boy' and not 'an asset to the team.' The one you laughed at for not being able to run as fast as your kid. Obviously not realising I, his mother, was standing right next to you listening to everything you were saying - Until I told you. Ha! You couldn't move to the other side of the field fast enough.”

Eljae is relishing his newfound internet fame. “I showed him my Facebook post and read him a few comments,” says Mara. “He too was blown away and could not wipe the smile from his face knowing that so many people were proud of him for getting out there and giving it a go!”

Expanding the reach of Mara’s post even further, professional rugby player Liam Messam of New Zealand’s All Blacks shared her missive on his Instagram account. He captioned the photo: “We need to be there to support our kids not tear them down. #ourfuture #ledkidsbekids #igotuEljae.”

Raves Mara: “Eljae was so proud!”

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