This blog is coming to all of you live from the top end. That’s right – this weekend I’ve made the trip to Darwin to watch my Parramatta Eels take on the Penrith Panthers at TIO Stadium in what is probably the most perfect weather for football. The sun is shining, there is a cool breeze and from where I am sitting right now I see lots of blue and gold polo’s and singlets around. I am well and truly in #eelsterritory and it is pretty spectacular.
One of the biggest failings that rugby league has at the moment is in its inability to be able to tell enough people about all the good stuff that the code does in the community. We all know that bad news sells and so often it is bad news that we are reading about in our newspapers – alcohol, drugs, sex and scandal – there is a new story about the NRL every week.
Here at Ladies who League it is our job to challenge rugby league to be the best it can be. It is to demand the best standards of behaviour and governance from all of those who represent our code. However, we also have another very important job and that’s to help promote rugby league and share some of those stories that other media outlets might not think is worth sharing.
It is fitting this weekend then that I tell you all about the work that the Parramatta Eels have been doing in Darwin since they arrived last Tuesday.
You’ll all be familiar with how the Parramatta Eels are sitting on the table. To say it has been a disappointing season would possibly be an understatement. We are bound to miss the finals again (for those that are keeping track, the last time that the Parramatta Eels played finals football was in 2009), we have lost Chris Sandow and had some horrific injuries which at various times throughout the season have seen the Eels without Nathan Peats, Corey Norman and Semi Radradra.
I would be lying to you if I said I was pleased with where we sat on the table. I would also be lying if I said that I didn’t care about the results on the field.
However after being in Darwin with the Parramatta Eels and getting a sense of what the team have been doing in the community, it reinforces to me that for me, there are some things that are more important than winning on the field and that’s what our players do off the field.
In the years that I have supported them, the Parramatta Eels have been consistently tremendous off the field and the visit to Darwin has been no different.
An excellent example is Luke Kelly – our very young halfback. Luke Kelly is from Katherine, so coming back to the Northern Territory is coming home for him. This week, Luke has absolutely revelled in the support he has received from the community, he has been open and embracing of fans and has essentially been a credit to the Club and to himself. Kelly is an example to the youngsters in the Northern Territory and is an example of a player in the NRL who has made it.
Next is the group of players that has been busy this week visiting over 30 schools this week in the NT. This work has involved supporting elite athletes, hosting coaching courses and running skills and drills in primary and secondary schools. It’s been such a joy to see the photos of the NT community just enjoying the fact that the Parramatta Eels have made the trip up here.
Beau Champion is another example. Beau was signed to the Parramatta Eels at the beginning of this season and unfortunately was injured in his first game back to the club. Not only has Beau come up to Darwin with the rest of the squad, but has spent plenty of time in the community and at schools. Beau has also visited junior rugby league clubs and the Northern Territory Institute of sport. Beau has been quoted celebrating his Indigenous culture and has indicated that the community work he has been doing is something that he wants to stay involved with even when his NRL career is over.
Along with all this community work, the Eels have been in the NT and visiting fans (both young and old) who are just excited to have NRL in the NT.
The Parramatta Eels commitment to growing the game of rugby league in the Northern Territory is something which I am extremely proud of. The partnership which the Eels have with the NT is in its 2nd year of a 4 year deal and I look forward to seeing the Eels continue to spread the blue and gold love up here.
Oh and wasn’t that win tremendous?
Ladies who League xxx