A host of rugby league volunteers, including three from New South Wales, were celebrated today at the 10th annual NRL Community Awards, acknowledging some of the game's many unassuming heroes and their tireless community work.
The awards were held in Sydney, with nominees and winners flying in from as far as Thursday Island and Gove to be part of the ceremony, before taking in all the action and excitement live tomorrow at the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final as guests of the NRL.
Wallsend's Andrew Johnson, Nowra's Shakeela Williams and the Gunning Roos all received awards as recognition for their tireless efforts this season. The presentation followed from the annual NSWRL Volunteer Awards, in which Cronulla's Peter Matheson took out the major prize.
Australian Rugby League Commissioner Wayne Pearce welcomed the volunteers and grassroots club members to the awards, which were also attended by NRL Ken Stephen Medal nominees, including the 2016 Ken Stephen Medal winner, Joel Thompson.
Winners across the six categories were:
- National Volunteer of the Year: Terry Abednego from Thursday Island, Queensland
- Grassroots Club of the Year: Gunning Roos from Gunning, New South Wales
- National Teacher of the Year: Andrew Johnson from Wallsend, New South Wales
- Young Person of the Year: Shakeela Williams from Nowra, New South Wales
- Women in League achievement award: Kiowa Goodwin from Mount Gambier, South Australia
- NRL Club Community Program of the Year: Beyond the Broncos, Brisbane Broncos
NRL General Manager of Community, Ellen Beale, said the awards were an important occasion in Grand Final week to pay tribute to volunteers in the game, right across the country.
"Our game thrives, thanks to the generous support, time and effort that thousands make across Australia week in, week out, so that people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have an opportunity to play and participate in a form of rugby league," Ms Beale said.
"I, like many others connected with rugby league, am inspired by the many volunteers and their stories as they continue to ensure the success of the game for generations to come."