Rugby League’s biggest ever community carnival and the NRL’s biggest stars have given more than 200,000 schoolchildren every reason to be excited about the launch of the 2013 Telstra Premiership season tonight.
Just nine days ahead of the Rabbitohs’ blockbuster season opener against the Roosters next Thursday, skipper Michael Crocker and superstar Greg Inglis spent the final day of the month long community carnival today meeting 7,500 young fans throughout 35 south Sydney schools.
The Rabbitohs’ visits mark the end of the 12th annual community carnival, which saw 400 players from all 16 NRL clubs travel more than 50,000km across four countries (Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga) in 27 days to deliver the game’s new anti bullying message to more than 200,000 schoolchildren.
From the first visits to Tonga and Samoa in Community Carnival history by the Warriors to kick off the initiative on January 31, to the Cowboys’ chartered flight visit to a remote town near the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland, the power of rugby league has been felt in more than 840 schools as players have urged students to support their classmates and stand up for those who are being bullied.
‘The 2013 Community Carnival has been our biggest and most powerful yet’, said NRL general manager of community, culture and diversity, Ms Trish Crews. ‘The feedback from students, teachers, community members, clubs and players is that the “Tackle Bullying” message has really resonated with everyone who has been a part of the carnival.
‘While never losing sight of the issues around bullying, our players have also been talking to students about the positive environment team sport can bring and as a result the reports are that interest in registering for junior league clubs has been unprecedented in some areas.
‘Community Carnival is a massive logistical exercise, and I’d like to thank all clubs, players and staff who have been involved this year and congratulate them on the delivery of the event.’
As part of the NRL’s anti bullying resources, players shared a new DVD aimed at empowering students to stand up for those who are being bullied, starring rugby league ambassadors Mario Fenech, Nathan Hindmarsh and Hazem El Masri, who all made trips to speak with students in person.
One of the key activities used by NRL players throughout Community Carnival to great success was a ‘drop a note box’, which saw classmates write anonymous positive affirmations about their fellow students, with the goal of building self esteem.
Players also delivered 25,000 anti bullying banner pens, 10,000 water bottles, 3,200 bags, pencil cases and stationery sets, 30,000 wrist bands and 150,000 player and ambassador cards during the community initiative, which is unrivalled in Australian sport.
Team visits during the Community Carnival:
The Broncos travelled to the flood affected remote region of Callide to visit schools and hold skills clinics with 1,600 local children in towns including Woorabinda and Theodore. In total, they saw 5,800 students during Community Carnival.
The Bulldogs travelled to flood affected Rockhampton visiting 3,300 children in towns such as Emu Park and Yeppoon. In their local western Sydney area, they visited over 7,800 students.
The Cowboys travelled to the remote towns of Doomadgee and Normanton near the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland, and over the course of their visits to Mt Isa, Charters Towers and Mackay saw over 17,000 students.
The Dragons travelled to Cairns in far north Queensland to visit 2,500 students and saw a further 20,000 students in extensive local visits.
The Eels travelled more than 280km in one day to see 15,000 students from 63 schools. In their visits to the south coast of NSW they saw more than 7700 students.
During the Knights’ trip to Tamworth, Wayne Bennett treated 80 local students to a skills session. Knights players saw nearly 8,500 students across their visits to Tamworth, Singleton, Kurri Kurri and Coffs Harbour.
The Community Carnival saw the most students of any club, visiting 51 schools in western Sydney and 39 in the central west including a trip to Carenne Special School in Bathurst.
During their trip to the Riverina the Rabbitohs saw 8,000 students over three days, including a trip by captain Michael Crocker to Kalinda Special School. In their local southern Sydney area they visited 35 schools and saw 7,600 students.
The Roosters travelled as far west as Parkes, Forbes and Condobolin, where their visits attracted a huge turnout. In their local visits to Sydney’s eastern suburbs, they saw 3,000 children at 14 schools.
The Sea Eagles saw over 3,000 children in the regional towns of Wee Waa and Warialda. They also hosted a charity function at Soldiers Beach on the central coast for IRIS Foundation (Prevention of Youth Suicide). In total their Community Carnival activities reached 4,700 students.
Sharks players visited more than 2,400 children in northwest NSW. In local visits in southern Sydney they saw a further 2,150 students.
The Storm held a skills clinic for students at Symonds Stadium in Geelong, and travelled to Mildura to visit local schools. In total they saw 4,300 students
In their local area the Titans visited 18 junior rugby league clubs and saw 7,000 children in one day. They also headed south into NSW and visited 4,000 students in the Byron Shire area.
The Warriors travelled the furthest of any club taking Community Carnival to Tonga and Samoa for the first time. In total they saw 5,100 students, including activity on game day in Dunedin, NZ.
The Tigers saw nearly 20,000 students in western Sydney. On their visit to the southern highlands, including a community barbecue at Mittagong Sports Ground, they saw 5,500 students.
Rugby league ambassadors Petero Civoniceva, Nathan Hindmarsh and Mario Fenech travelled to Wide Bay and Mackay to visit 3,800 children at more than 25 schools. Hindmarsh also made the journey to Hay, NSW.