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Commitment and passion a winning combo

Somewhere in between commitments with the surf club and the local fire brigade, Rebecca Austin finds time to be a trainer for the Forster Tuncurry Hawks Rugby League Club.

And for her tireless efforts, she has won the NSWRL Regional Volunteer of the Year Award for East Coast Region.

Rugby League has been her first love since her dad Dennis introduced her to the Western Suburbs Magpies, and then the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

“When the Magpies merged with the Balmain Tigers, he became a Bulldogs fan,” Austin said.

“I’ve come from a family that’s been passionate about Rugby League, and I’m a proud Panthers fan.”

When her sons Brandon and Phoenix were old enough, Rebecca who was then living in the Penrith district, signed them up with Western City Tigers in the Under 6s, and 15 years of volunteer work began.

She worked as a blue-shirt trainer for various teams and squads, along with the Western Sydney Academy, before moving to the NSW mid-coast five years ago. But she makes regular trips to Sydney to volunteer at events like All Schools carnivals.

“It’s a passion,” Rebecca said about volunteering.

“It’s not something you wake up and think, ‘This would be a nice thing to do’. It’s something that you love.

“For me, being in the Mt Druitt community originally, things sometimes are really tough and Mums struggle to get their kids to sport, let alone have the money to pay the registrations.

“But you’re part of this fantastic Rugby League community where everyone comes together to make it happen.”

Many a Saturday morning Rebecca woke up with several children sleeping in the lounge room so she could get them all to games.

Rebecca was actually nominated for the NSWRL award by her son, Phoenix, who is proud that “everyone in the Penrith District from Blacktown to Katoomba would know Mum”.

“There really isn't a field she has not attended – driving kids to games and training all over the district,” Phoenix said.

“As a trainer she has always had words of encouragement and had kids from all walks of life, all backgrounds - some with challenging behaviour issues. But she could create a positive, fun, training or game day because we all had one thing in common - the love of Rugby League.

“Mum goes out of her way to make you feel a part of something more than great.

“She always says Rugby League is about commitment, passion, and dedication from the top to the bottom or it will never work.”