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True Blues and Canterbury-Bankstown legends Hazem El Masri and Paul Langmack visited Sydney’s Sir Joseph Banks High School this week to speak about mental fitness.

A collaboration between the Bulldogs, the NSWRL and the NSW Police’s Youth Engagement for the South-West Metropolitan Region, brought El Masri and Langmack together to sit down with Year Eight students.

Already in 2023 Langmack has spoken to 1,400 students and footballers across the state aged from 11 right through to late 20s as part of his ‘Changing Rooms’ program.

It is designed to give school-age kids some help and perspective on how to handle the pressures they are under from issues like bullying, expectation and harassment from social media.

El Masri being a one-club player – 317 games for the Bulldogs including the 2004 NRL premiership – along with his games for NSW, Australia and Lebanon means his profile is significant in south-west Sydney.

“Sensational,” said Langmack, when asked how the students reacted to El Masri’s presence.

“It was so good to talk to the kids and for them to hear Hazem’s story.

“He came here from Lebanon when he was 12, when he couldn’t speak a word of English and many people didn’t understand his Muslim religion,” he said.

“They asked about Ramadan and how hard it was for him to train, while fasting from dawn to sunset.

“He answered them all and told them he grew up with people, who made poor decisions they wished they could undo. We’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen to these kids.”

Langmack, who won three Premierships with the Bulldogs (1984, ’85, ’88), said El Masri signed footballs and wanted to do more with the students.

The NSW Police also have a ‘Fit for Life’ program they run through the Bankstown PCYC, where a school bus picks up the kids and brings them to training at 7am.

“Hazem and I said ‘We’ll come’. The kids are keen so we’ll do further mental fitness sessions there,” Langmack said.

“We are also going to conduct sessions at Sir Joseph Banks High with every class from Year Seven through to Year 10 in Term Three with the Police Youth Command.”

On Sunday Langmack is branching out to other codes speaking to teams from Metropolitan South-West Hockey with players aged between Under 13s to Under 18s.

Next week he is off to the Kiama Knights Junior Rugby League club to speak to the Under 13s, 14s, 15s and 16s.

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