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NRL pays tributes to the game's lifeblood in National Volunteer Week

Volunteers are the backbone of community rugby league, selflessly dedicating their time to ensure the game continues to flourish from the grassroots level up to the top.

And with Australia celebrating National Volunteer Week, which kicked off on Sunday, there's no better time to pay tribute to those who contribute so much purely out of love for the sport.

The NRL recognises volunteers every year through the NRL Community Awards, with tireless Wheelchair Rugby League Australia founder Joseph Chidiac earning the title of 2020 Volunteer of the Year.

Chidiac, who said last year that he spent 50 hours per week in his role as director, epitomises the no-fuss attitude and incredible work ethic of so many invaluable rugby league volunteers across the country.

"It used to be a voluntary-type hobby. It's now a voluntary-type job, to be honest," Chidiac told NRL.com about his position in October.

"It's getting to a stage where we've got a lot of interest [in Wheelchair Rugby League Australia]. A lot of people want to be involved. We just don't have the means to employ someone.

"So all the background work has to come from myself and a few others on the board that also have jobs.

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"A lot of it is administration and organising. I find that I really enjoy doing it because I know the end result is going to be great for everybody involved."

Chidiac had always wanted to be part of rugby league. The wheelchair game gave him that chance, but he's given back even more.

"I soon realised that by pursuing my dream, I was also pursuing dreams of others. I was seeing people – fathers and sons, brothers, with and without a disability – participate," he added.

"I started to focus on that because I could see the benefits … It is really rewarding."

As part of National Volunteers Week, NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott will be visiting volunteers across the state.

“I look forward to meeting some of the thousands of volunteers who give up their precious time to volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW SES, Volunteer Rescue Association and Marine Rescue NSW,” Elliott said.

“This year is an especially important one for everyone in the State to show their gratitude, after a summer period that saw the NSW SES reacting to multiple storms and historic floods, everyone involved in the mammoth effort deserves our thanks."

NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York echoed Elliott’s call for communities to show appreciation for the men and women of the service.

“Every year during National Volunteer Week, we make sure our members know the work they do year-round doesn’t go unnoticed,” Commissioner York said.

For more information about National Volunteers Week visit ses.nsw.gov.au.