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Boyle to make a difference with Game Changer program

Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues forward Millie Boyle invited 20 special guests inside the walls of Ignite HQ Centre of Excellence this week to see what life is like for a NSW player.

It was all part of the Dally M Medal winner’s new workshop program ‘Game Changer’ aimed at helping people with disabilities gain some new skills and understanding of what lies ahead for them in the job market.

The program is aimed at NDIS participants with a love of Rugby League to improve their confidence, build social connection, and perhaps get them thinking about a career in the sports industry.

“It started because I noticed there wasn’t really anything in that space for people with disabilities, who were finishing school, as far as educational programs to get them job-ready,” Boyle said.

“We’re trying to provide some strategies and tools to help them keep finding their way in society, into the community.”

And what better way to start than at the very top of the Rugby League tree. Boyle took them through the gymnasium, locker room, recovery pools and rehabilitation areas, used by both the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues and the Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues.

She even put them through push-ups, lunges and other warm-up routines.

Then they were all out on the training field at Ignite HQ Centre of Excellence doing passing, running and kicking drills.

The group were even given an exclusive tour of the ‘Blues Tunnel’; an underground pathway that NSW players use to move from their dressing room at Ignite HQ Centre via to Accor Stadium.

Back in the classroom – or the Brad Fittler Lounge to be exact – Boyle had participants interview each other about their favourite team, players, likes and dislikes.

They wrote down their goals and then stood up to tell the whole group, where they could find themselves one day.  

“At today’s workshop we had more school-aged kids attend and I was focusing on giving them all a chance to be seen and heard and to have fun for themselves,” Boyle said.

“Sometimes in mainstream classes or their own social settings they get excluded or pushed to the back.

“Today was all about them – they got to stand up and speak and tell everyone their goals.”

Boyle, whose younger sister Hanna has Down Syndrome, and her co-organisers, the Trainer Group, have begun contacting NRL clubs to act as hosts for the one-day workshops – the Canberra Raiders have already held one.

“I have always volunteered, worked, or lived in the disability space and I find myself always coming back to it because it’s so rewarding,” Boyle said.

“It’s a passion for me.

“I learn from the participants, from the parents or support workers. I have a family member with a disability so I know how important it is for the kids to feel included, invested in something.”

Dianna Bray and her son Aiden live in Moss Vale but are connected to the Mittagong Junior Lions.

“I’m hoping (workshop) will open up a few opportunities for him,” Bray said.

“Let him hear and see what might be out there for him work-wise, school-wise.

“I want him to know and feel that he is just as capable as anyone else to play sport and get involved, get into the workforce and live the life he wants to live.”

Aiden’s father Mark sets up the scoreboard and ground equipment before weekend games, Dianna is the team manager for the Under 15s and Aiden plays in the second row.

“He loves rugby league and the boys in his team are really welcoming and inclusive,” she said.

“Most of them don’t even know he has autism.

“Aiden does a lot of specialist things like occupational therapy, speech therapy. But when he plays football he’s just one of the boys.”

Aiden is also doing some refereeing courses and has begun officiating at Group Six matches.

“The great thing about that is that it’s a job – he’s working and having to commit to people and commit to the role.”

For anyone wanting information on Boyle’s next ‘Game Changer’ workshops, contact:

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