Community Carnival to hit Australia and NZ

Thousands of children returning to school next week will be treated to special visits from their favourite NRL stars as part of Rugby League’s 2012 Community Carnival which will see 400 players visit more than 100 towns across Australia and New Zealand throughout the next month.

From Caloundra to Currabubula, Perth to Hobart, to Cootamundra, Gilgandra and beyond, the 2012 Community Carnival will see some clubs travelling over 3000km to spend time with fans and supporters, while promoting the importance of a healthy lifestyle and literacy. All 16 NRL Clubs will be involved, travelling to regional and remote communities, as well as their own club catchment areas. 

The NRL have today announced the far-reaching locations for Rugby League’s 11th annual Community Carnival, with the code’s elite players reaching out to tens of thousands of children throughout the carnival which kicks-off on Sunday (January 29) in Cairns and Coffs Harbour; and ends on Wednesday, February 22, with a local blitz in Western Sydney.

The first Community Carnival visits for 2012 will be held by the Michael Crocker-led Rabbitohs, who will visit Coffs Harbour after a scheduled trip to flood-stricken Bellingen on Sunday afternoon was cancelled; while Sea Eagles players will attend a community barbeque at Yarrabah Junior Rugby League Club in Cairns.

The community blitz continues on Monday, January 30, with a very special reading session with the NRL All Stars squad led by captain Benji Marshall at Blacktown Library in Western Sydney. More activities will be launched across regional areas of Queensland and NSW that day as the Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs continue their Cairns and Coffs Harbour visits; Panthers players visit eight schools in Orange and hold a Junior Rugby League “Come and Try” event; and the Wests Tigers squad launch their Southern Highlands activities before visiting 10 schools the next day.

NRL Chief Executive Officer, Mr David Gallop said that the annual Community Carnival is a great opportunity for the players to meet fans in far-reaching communities and to promote the importance of education.
“For many of the families in regional Australia, the opportunity to get to a major city to see a big game is very rare, so being able to have access to the players across the Community Carnival period is pretty special for these remote communities,” Mr Gallop said.

“As we head into the 2012 All Stars week and with Community Carnival taking place across the country, it is an exciting way to launch the season and to see firsthand the impact that Rugby League has in the lives of many people.

“We know many communities get a kick out of seeing players visit their town, but what is also important to recognise is just how much the players enjoy these visits themselves, and I thank them for really embracing the concept of Community Carnival.”

Joel Thompson, Canberra Raiders second rower and member of the 2012 Indigenous All Stars team, has memories of being a junior player and being visited by big name players in his local area as part of Community Carnival, and is looking forward to his club’s visits after the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match.

“I’m from Forbes but I’ve had time growing up and playing junior footy in Gundagai and Wagga Wagga too, so it will be good to get back there and see a lot of my family,” Thompson said.

“I think it’s vitally important for the NRL teams to get back to the bush to keep country footy alive and well. A lot of the players who come through the NRL clubs and in particular Canberra are country boys so it really is important to keep the people from the bush interested in our game.”

An important part of the 2012 Community Carnival is also the delivery of strong education messages that the code promotes through its One Community programs and in particular Rugby League Reads.

“In 2010 One Community introduced a series of Rugby League Reads initiatives for primary schools to highlight the importance of reading and while we have found that children love to read content about Rugby League, they are even more receptive when NRL players read with them,” NRL Director, Community, Culture and Diversity, Trish Crews said today.

“Players and development officers will be armed with 15,000 Rugby League Reads magazines, which means that during Community Carnival students from far and wide will receive important reading lessons.

“Through children’s passion for Rugby League and sport in general we want to provide positive messages about the importance of reading, literacy and a good education, and Community Carnival gives us the ideal avenue to do so.”

Throughout the three and a half weeks of Community Carnival, players and Development Officers will deliver 10,000 ice coolers and 10,000 rulers and puzzles, 100,000 packs of select NRL Champions, 25,000 Chase cards and 15,000 Rugby League Reads magazines.

NRL players will be available for media at each Community Carnival visit. The table attached includes activities and contacts for each location, which will be updated and distributed throughout the Community Carnival period.