Nathan Hindmarsh, NRL.com
Each week our special NRL ambassadors will rotate writing duties to bring you up to date with the latest off-field Rugby League news from around the country, including the far-reaching beneficial impacts of dedicated One Community programs. Second up, Nathan Hindmarsh wraps up the hugely successful Blues Hogs for Homeless ride.
Last week I was lucky enough to go on a charity bike ride, Blues Hogs for Homeless, with Brad Fittler, Ian Schubert and a few other keen bike riders.
Our aim for the trip was to raise money for Father Chris Riley’s charity ‘Youth off the Streets’ which helps put kids who are living on the streets into suitable accommodation. Along with this we wanted to spread the Origin word and rally the good folk of New South Wales behind Laurie and the Blues this year.
Throughout the trip we delivered the NRL’s ‘Tackle Bullying’ campaign to schools, assisted with skills clinics, promoted NSW Origin and conducted casual meet-and-greets.
Our trip started south in Nowra with a meet-and-greet session before we set off (in the pouring rain!) to visit the following towns: Bowral, Goulburn, Penrith, Hunter Valley, Denman, Scone, Tamworth, Ballina, Lennox Head, Tweed Heads and South West Rocks. Our final last stop was at Allianz Stadium to do a lap of honour in front of 35,000 fans before the first game of the year between the Roosters and Rabbitohs.
In every town we visited we were met by cheering kids, who were super-keen to show off their footy skills to us, as well as locals who were always there to show their support.
As much as it was about raising money it was also about the ride for us keen Harley devotees. The most interesting – or should I say wildest – ride was between the hills from Armidale to Nymboida. The rain was heavy; and the road was tight, steep and windy – which caused us all trouble in keeping our bikes up straight, including our most experienced rider Schuey. We stopped at the Nymboida Coaching Station Inn to catch our breath and were amazed by the beauty of the area… and the fact we made it there safely!
Our last stop before heading back down south was to Tweed Heads where we played a bit of touch footy with some surfers during their break from the Quiksilver Pro. I even managed to get a little photo with one of Australia’s best female surfers, Sally Fitzgibbons.
The highlight for me was the visit to Scone, Denman and South West Rocks. Growing up in a small town I know what Rugby League means to small communities like these – Rugby League is what the town lives for on the weekend.
In finishing up I would like to thank everyone who donated to the charity and of course everyone who made the trip possible. Thanks to Harley Davidson who provided us with a Harley to raffle off, and to Caltex and Holden – we couldn’t have done it without you.
I am already looking forward to a bigger and better tour next year!