St George Illawarra CEO Brian Johnston pledged to buy new goal posts for St Mary's Star of the Sea Milton after being told the previous set had burned down in a fire that nearly claimed the primary school.
Dragons players also presented Cobargo Public School with a $2,000 cheque from the club's major sponsor St George Bank to buy new goal posts.
At Milton, only the efforts of a staff member who lives nearby and local residents prevented the fire from advancing beyond the sports oval and trees surrounding St Mary's.
However, upon returning from their summer holidays this week students asked principal Lindy Nelson for a new set of posts and Johnston agreed the Dragons would meet the cost when he joined players at the school on Wednesday.
“The players, coaches and administrative staff wanted to help out,” Johnston said. “Some have been prepared to contribute money and time as well. This was requested by them to come down the South Coast and get involved.
“The coaches were a driving force behind it as well, and I have just told the principal that the club will ensure they get new goal posts.
“The South Coast is a development area for our club and an area we take great pride in. We want boys and girls on the South Coast to aspire to play for and to support the Dragons.”
St George Illawarra stars Tyson Frizell, James Graham, Matt Dufty and Jayden Sullivan joined former winger Jason Nightingale for a series of activities with the students on the oval.
Graham even took time for a one-on-one session with one young boy.
Nearby, earth moving equipment was clearing trees that had previously lined the back fence of the school, while the school’s play-ground and jumping pillow were out of bounds because of fire damage.
“When the kids arrived at school this morning they were very excited to hear that the Dragons were coming and that is just a bit of joy in our school at the moment which the children need,” Nelson said.
“Our kids just idolise these guys, it’s a heartland here and we’ve just had the good news that the Dragons are going to help replace the goal posts.
“Our whole oval was burned here so we have worked really hard to get a bit of green back and the boys asked me first thing this morning ‘when are the footy posts going back in’.”
Illawarra codes unite for bushfire relief golf day
A grass fire started by embers threatened the school but RFS volunteers were trying to save a nearby petrol station and had no resources to help.
“The fire came up the front of our hall and it burned all around it,” Nelson said.
“One of our teachers lives in the sub-division nearby and the guys from the sub-division were brilliant. They saved our school.
“The local community has been great, we have been inundated by offers of help and our staff came up here when the road was blocked and they fed everyone [stuck in traffic] on the highway.
“Our kids were there too, handing out water bottles. I am so proud of them all.”