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Mates get together to play footy again

Volunteering in the canteen or coaching? Dropping off your kids for a game? Has that sparked your interest to get back playing footy with your mates? For a group of Over-35s men from the Macarthur region in south-western Sydney, that turned out to be exactly the case.

Last month they started a new competition for Over-35s League Tag, playing once a fortnight on Friday nights with games being two 25-minute halves. The Narellan Jets and Oaks Tigers Junior Rugby League Football Clubs are just two clubs who have signed up.

“It takes a little longer for our bodies to recover so we thought we’d do it every two weeks rather than weekly – give time for the soreness to dissipate,” Stephen Hazelton said.

They have named the competition, which currently has seven teams, the Brad Turney Cup after a good friend passed away following a short illness. Brad was also a volunteer at several clubs.

“The competition is for Over-35 males who are volunteers for their local junior footy club or are past juniors,” Hazleton said.

“The games have brought old team mates back to play together after some 15 years or so off the field.

Photo: Jake Brightwell
Photo: Jake Brightwell

“The games are played in great spirit and are flexible to be scheduled around, or on the back of other junior games, as we don’t want to lump any more work on the secretaries of Junior Rugby League clubs.

“We are getting spokesmen in place for each team so people wanting to play can contact them rather than the secretaries.”

Hazleton said he was hoping to get an Over-30s women’s team up and running too.

The masters sport-style of idea came to him after attending the NSWRL annual Community Rugby League conference last year, where he heard the Cronulla region was doing something similar.

“I thought it’d be pretty good to look for those volunteers or former players from our junior clubs to get them together – bring in parents who haven’t really engaged with the club yet,” he said.

“It keeps them interested in the game and it’s been fun to see blokes bring their kids along to game nights. The kids are running around in the background playing touch too.

“It’s all based around the spirit of volunteers at the club, or people who still have some association with their old club.

Photo: Jake Brightwell
Photo: Jake Brightwell

“It is so good to put this social element into the club – it can only make the club stronger and reinforces the culture of clubs.

“There’s a lot of footballers out there who think they’re too busted these days, or can’t get the time off work, but here’s a night-time comp that’s fun and easy.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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