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Wheelchair pioneer and Lithgow Bears recognised in the Kayo NRL Community Awards

The NSWRL has congratulated wheelchair Rugby League pioneer Joseph Chidiac and grassroots club Lithgow Bears Rugby League Football Club after they were recognised today in the Kayo NRL Community Awards 2020.

Chidiac, who has devoted 25 years of his life to establish and promote wheelchair competitions around Australia including his work as the founder of NSW Wheelchair Rugby League, was named Volunteer of the Year.

The Bears, who played a crucial role in helping the community cope with a challenging season which included deadly bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, were named Grassroots Club of the Year.

“Our game could not survive without the tireless work of our volunteers and one of the most enjoyable parts of my job is to see them recognised for their efforts,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.

“I’ve known Joseph for several years and he is a lifelong Rugby League fan who put wheelchair Rugby League on the map, while we also recognised the efforts of the Lithgow Bears in 2020 after they took out the NSWRL award for Grassroots Club of the Year.

“I congratulate them both for their awards. They are well deserved and I hope they remain involved in our game for many years to come.”

The NSWRL also congratulates Kristine Laird from the Kiama Knights Junior Rugby League Football Club, who was a finalist for Volunteer of the Year and Central Charlestown Junior Rugby League Football Club who were finalists for the Grassroots Club of the Year.

Laird won the NSWRL award for Volunteer of the Year for her tireless work during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic that included assisting with the mental wellbeing of the local community and acting as the club’s social media manager, photographer and committee member.