Rugby League’s biggest ever Community Carnival and the NRL’s biggest stars have given more than 200,000 schoolchildren every reason to be excited about the launch of the 2013 Telstra Premiership season tomorrow night.
Just nine days ahead of the Rabbitohs’ blockbuster season-opener against the Roosters next Thursday, skipper Michael Crocker and superstar Greg Inglis spent the final day of the month-long Community Carnival today meeting 7500 young fans throughout 35 South Sydney schools.
The Rabbitohs’ visits mark the end of the 12th annual Community Carnival which saw 400 players from all 16 NRL Clubs travel more than 50,000km across four countries (Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga) in 27 days to deliver the game’s new anti-bullying message to more than 200,000 schoolchildren.
From the first visits to Tonga and Samoa in Community Carnival history by the Warriors to kick-off the initiative on January 31, to the Cowboys’ chartered flight visit to a remote town near the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland, the power of Rugby League has been felt in more than 840 schools as players have urged students to support their classmates and stand up for those who are being bullied.
“The 2013 Community Carnival has been our biggest and most powerful yet,” said NRL General Manager of Community, Culture and Diversity, Ms Trish Crews.
“The feedback from students, teachers, community members, clubs and players is that the ‘Tackle Bullying’ message has really resonated with everyone who has been a part of the Carnival.
“While never losing sight of the issues around bullying, our players have also been talking to students about the positive environment team sport can bring and as a result the reports are that interest in registering for Junior League Clubs has been unprecedented in some areas.
“Community Carnival is a massive logistical exercise, and I’d like to thank all clubs, players and staff who have been involved this year and congratulate them on the delivery of the event.”
As part of the NRL’s anti-bullying resources, players shared a new DVD aimed at empowering students to stand up for those who are being bullied, starring Rugby League Ambassadors Mario Fenech, Nathan Hindmarsh and Hazem El Masri, who all made trips to speak with students in person.
One of the key activities used by NRL players throughout Community Carnival to great success was a ‘drop-a-note box’, which saw classmates write anonymous positive affirmations about their fellow students, with the goal of building self-esteem.
Players also delivered 25,000 anti-bullying banner pens, 10,000 water bottles, 3200 bags, pencil cases and stationery sets, 30,000 wrist bands and 150,000 player and ambassador cards during the community initiative which is unrivalled in Australian sport.
Broncos: The Broncos travelled to the flood-affected remote region of Callide to visit schools and hold skills clinics with 1600 local children in towns including Woorabinda and Theodore. In total, they saw 5800 students during Community Carnival.
Bulldogs: The Bulldogs travelled to flood-affected Rockhampton visiting 3300 children in towns such as Emu Park and Yeppoon. In their local Western Sydney area, they visited over 7800 students.
Cowboys: The Cowboys travelled to the remote towns of Doomadgee and Normanton near the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland, and over the course of their visits to Mt Isa, Charters Towers and Mackay saw over 17,000 students.
Dragons: The Dragons travelled to Cairns in far north Queensland to visit 2500 students and saw a further 20,000 students in extensive local visits.
Eels: The Eels travelled more than 280km in one day to see 15,000 students from 63 schools. In their visits to the South Coast of NSW they saw more than 7700 students.
Knights: During the Knights’ trip to Tamworth, Wayne Bennett treated 80 local students to a skills session. Knights players saw nearly 8500 students across their visits to Tamworth, Singleton, Kurri Kurri and Coffs Harbour.
Panthers: The Panthers saw the most students of any club, visiting 51 schools in Western Sydney and 39 in the Central West including a trip to Carenne Special School in Bathurst.
Rabbitohs: During their trip to the Riverina the Rabbitohs saw 8000 students over three days including a trip by captain Michael Crocker to Kalinda Special School. In their local southern Sydney area they visited 35 schools and saw 7600 students.
Raiders: Raiders players visited more than 4600 children throughout the NSW South Coast region, including attending a swimming carnival for St Joseph’s in Bombala and receiving wood chopping lessons from locals.
Roosters: The Roosters travelled as far west as Parkes, Forbes and Condobolin where their visits attracted a huge turnout. In their local visits to Sydney’s eastern suburbs, they saw 3000 children at 14 schools.
Sea Eagles: The Sea Eagles saw over 3000 children in the regional towns of Wee Waa and Warialda. They also hosted a charity function at Soldiers Beach on the Central Coast for IRIS Foundation (Prevention of Youth Suicide). In total their Community Carnival activities reached 4700 students.
Sharks: Sharks players visited more than 2400 children in north-west NSW. In local visits in southern Sydney they saw a further 2150 students.
Storm: The Storm held a skills clinic for students at Symonds Stadium in Geelong, and travelled to Mildura to visit local schools. In total they saw 4300 students.
Titans: In their local area the Titans visited 18 Junior Rugby League Clubs and saw 7000 children in one day. They also headed south into NSW and visited 4000 students in the Byron Bay area.
Warriors: The Warriors travelled the furthest distance of any club taking Community Carnival to Tonga and Samoa for the first time. In total they saw 5100 students, including activity on game-day in Dunedin, NZ.
Wests Tigers: The Tigers saw nearly 20,000 students in western Sydney. On their visit to the Southern Highlands, including a community BBQ at Mittagong Sports Ground, they saw 5500 students.
Rugby League Ambassadors: Rugby League Ambassadors Petero Civoniceva, Nathan Hindmarsh and Mario Fenech travelled to Wide Bay and Mackay to visit 3800 children at more than 25 schools. Hindmarsh also made the journey to Hay, NSW.