As seen on by Kelly Armitage

Hundreds of Greymouth school students and locals turned out at New Zealand Rugby League and Vodafone Warriors community events this week, with NRL players Eliesa Katoa and Jackson Frei and the club’s community relations team visiting the South Island town.

Sunday’s skills and drills session at the Greymouth Rugby League Open Day for 5-13 year olds was popular, with more than 100 children attending.  The players took children for different activities, giving them tips and tricks, and practising basic rugby league skills.  Later that day a development training session was held for aspiring rugby league players aged 15-18 years old.

Following Sunday’s session with the players’ involvement, the community team held ACC SportSmart visits at three local schools with more than 300 local school children at Grey Main School, Paroa School and Greymouth High School.  The SportSmart programme teaches children how to do sport well so they can perform well, have fun and avoid injuries, setting them up with the knowledge and skills they need for life-long participation in sport and recreation.

The programme is designed to incorporate important aspects of wellbeing that are vital to professional athletes for top performance and also how our children can include this into their daily routines. The school visits have a focus on hydration, sleep and encouraging a strong sense of belonging.

Community Relations Manager Petrece Kesha said the Greymouth visit was a real success. “We know how much Greymouth locals love their rugby league, and it’s always so great coming down here – we know the Vodafone Warriors have a lot of fans in the town and we always get the warmest of welcomes.

“It’s really special being able to connect with communities like Greymouth and bring players in to the town to encourage young athletes and aspiring rugby league players, not only teaching them skills relevant to the game, but also incorporating really important messages about personal wellbeing too.

“Furthermore, both Jackson and Eliesa have never been to Greymouth and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience, spending time with locals and sharing their knowledge and experience,” she said.

Representatives from New Zealand Rugby League including Community Programme Liaison Manager, Ani Cherrington, and Women’s Development and Welfare Manager Luisa Avaiki, who is also the coach of the Warriors women’s team in the NRL took part in the sessions too. Kesha said NZRL’s West Coast Rugby League Development Officer Paddy Byrne was instrumental in organising the trip.