Watching the northern NSW floods swallow up people’s homes and livelihoods was enough to strike a bond between two rural Rugby League clubs – the Wagga Kangaroos and Lismore Rams.
Wagga Kangaroos Junior RL President Chris Jordan and Marist Brothers Junior RL (known as Lismore Rams) Secretary Tania Bonomini have been in touch to co-ordinate the distribution of unused football boots, jerseys, head gear that Wagga families and players have collected.
“Like everyone we’ve seen all the floods in Lismore and right through the Northern Rivers,” Jordan said.
“I know a few people up that way and it made me think how tough the footy clubs would be doing it.
“We’ve got a pretty big club down here in Wagga so I thought we could do something that might make a difference for the kids up there.”
Jordan didn’t have a direct affiliation with the Rams but he does now.
“I just picked them because Lismore copped it so hard,” he said.
“If they want to share around the gear that we send up to other clubs that’d be good as well.”
Bonomini was stunned by the response from a fellow Rugby League community.
“It really is heart-warming, really lovely, to see these people reaching out from quite far away,” she said.
“We did lose everything – gear, first aid kits, furniture, the lot. But we’re fighting our way back.
“And this generosity helps absolutely.”
Wagga Roos players, their parents and friends have been dropping off gear at club training nights for the past week.
“On the first night we got about 30 pairs of boots and plenty of head gear, so we’ll keep it up for the next couple of weeks,” Jordan said.
Bonomini says her players started training this week on ‘borrowed’ grounds as the Rams’ regular fields are still unplayable.
“It was great to see the kids running around again, reconnecting again, because most of their families have lost everything too,” she said
The season for the Rams Under 6s-Under 16s, girls league tag and two girls tackle teams, begins April 30.
Bonomini said both the NRL and NSWRL had provided financial and other assistance via flood rescue packages.
“We’ve had generous help from those at the top of Rugby League right down to wonderful community clubs like the Wagga Roos,” she said.
“Just getting the essentials like football boots, balls, head gear and jerseys means we can train and get excited once again about the upcoming season.”