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By Joseph Los’e (Kaupapa Māori Editor)


A rugby league boss is going back to basics to create an inclusive community culture and does not want the club to be held to ransom by onfield results or the bar turnover.

In an era where sports clubs throughout Aotearoa are struggling with playing numbers and sponsorship dollars, the Te Atatu Roosters have drawn a line in the sand and won’t accept funding from pokies or booze.

As part of the Auckland Rugby League (ARL) vision, the Thriving Club Model has been designed to encourage diversity of income and to leverage funding, grants and sponsorships

Roosters chairman Craig Godfrey (Ngati Porou/Hauraki-Mataora) is stripping back sport’s traditional “play hard, stay hard, drink hard” culture to implement a community-based model. He wants the West Auckland club to be a safe focal point for all the community and not continue to carry the stigma of a hangout for hard-drinking former players and noisy fans.

Since taking the reins of the 1988 National Rugby League champion club in 2021, Godfrey mde a free play group, which already has 60 tamariki from the Te Atatu area registered on its books a priority. The club also runs rangatahi (youth) mentoring sessions and has started Mau Rakau – traditional Māori martial arts – classes.

They run holiday programmes for the Auckland Rugby League and tag and touch competitions. They are also establishing a netball partnership.