Rugby League fans are being asked to take a moment to help recognise the game’s unsung local heroes at one of the most inspiring nights on the Rugby League calendar – the annual One Community Awards.

Voting for the 2011 One Community Awards has opened with fans able to submit their nominations here for the awards which, for the second year running, will be staged at the Sydney Town Hall as the kick off to the NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final Week celebrations.

“When you see the stories of grassroots people nominated for these awards and then see them on stage with the NRL players nominated for their work in the community, it is one of those moments that showcases the heart and soul of our game,” NRL Director of Community, Culture & Diversity, Ms Trish Crews, said.

“The most important part however is making sure people take the time now to simply nominate someone for what they do.

“There are plenty of people who want to be unsung heroes but the truth is they deserve to be recognised and so I urge everyone to put in their nominations so we can make sure these stories come to light.”

As well as the coveted Telstra Ken Stephen Medal, awarded to an NRL player who has demonstrated outstanding community service, the night features the Toyota National Volunteer of the Year, Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Awards, AAMI Service to Refereeing and ARL Development National Teacher of the Year.

This year’s awards will also include the inaugural Rugby League Learn. Earn. Legend! Award presented in partnership with the Federal Government’s Learn. Earn. Legend! campaign to a young Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who has demonstrated the initiative’s core values by making a commitment to further their education, improve their career options and act as a role model for other young Indigenous Australians.

More than 400 nominations were received for last year’s awards with the 2011 Award categories including: 

Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra (Telstra will give $5,000 to the winner and $5,000 to their favourite charity)
Toyota National Volunteer of the Year (Toyota will give $5,000 to the winner and $5,000 to their club)
Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Awards, Volunteer and Paid (Harvey Norman will give a $5,000 Harvey Norman Gift Card to each of the winners)
Telstra NRL Club Community Program of the Year (Telstra will give $10,000 to the NRL Club’s Community Program development and/or staff development)
Telstra Grassroots Club of the Year (Telstra will give two Telstra Assistance Packs valued at $2,000 each plus $2,000 to the club)
AAMI Service to the Community Award (AAMI will provide $5,000 towards the winning community program)
AAMI Service to Refereeing Award (AAMI will give $2,500 cheque to the winner)
ARL Development National Teacher of the Year Award (ARLD will provide $2,500 to the winning teacher and a $500 equipment pack for their school)
Rugby League Learn. Earn. Legend! Award

Nominations for the following One Community Awards categories are open now:

Toyota National Volunteer of the Year
The Toyota National Volunteer of the Year will have provided exceptional service to Rugby League and made a notable and measurable difference in their region in 2011. The nominees for the Toyota National Volunteer of the Year are judged on their contribution to the development, promotion and organisation of Rugby League in their community.

Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Award – Paid and Volunteer
The Harvey Norman Women in League Achievement Awards are presented to women who have either acted as an outstanding advocate for the advancement and opportunity of women in Rugby League or the advancement of Rugby League generally.

Telstra One Community Grassroots Club of the Year
The Telstra One Community Grassroots Club of the Year will be presented to a Rugby League grassroots club that has fostered participation and enjoyment at all levels of the sport, has shown innovation in administration and has become an integral part of its community.

AAMI Service to the Community Award
The AAMI Service to the Community Award is presented to a grassroots volunteer, administrator, player, Club or organisation for providing an outstanding service to the community through their involvement in Rugby League.

AAMI Service to Refereeing Award
The winner will provide service to the community through a commitment to the role of refereeing in 2011. They should have been involved in recruitment, retention and training of referees, as well as have refereed in the past or be refereeing now.

ARL Development National Teacher of the Year Award
This Award will be presented to a Primary or Secondary School teacher who has demonstrated exceptional support of Rugby League through the provision of opportunities for students to be involved in practical Rugby League activities within their school and district.

Rugby League Learn. Earn. Legend! Award
This award will be presented in partnership with the Federal Government’s Learn. Earn. Legend! campaign to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander youth who has demonstrated the initiative’s core values by making a commitment to further their education, improve their career options and act as a role model for other young Indigenous Australians. It is awarded to a person who has proven that in doing this they can be a legend for themselves, their family and their community.

Nominations for the following One Community Awards categories are provided by the NRL Clubs, after which the Rugby League community is able to vote towards the winner:

Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra
The Ken Stephen Medal presented by Telstra recognises the efforts of an NRL player, who has not only achieved on the field, but has also committed time off the field to community projects. The winner will have a history of donating their own time to assist community organisations, outside of their regular Club commitments.

Telstra NRL Club Community Program of the Year
Established by Rugby League’s One Community, this new award will be presented annually to an NRL Club that showcases an outstanding community program that significantly improves outcomes for the community it caters for.