Westpac NSW Sky Blues players Millie Elliott and Kezie Apps have begun a three-week tour through regional NSW bringing their health and well-being messages through a series of clinics.
The pair took over the Bega Roosters club room and playing field at the Bega Recreational Centre in southern NSW on the first day of Elliott’s ‘Game Changer’ workshops sharing her passion for education and confidence-building for those with a disability.
Two of the participants today were her younger sister Hannah, who has Down Syndrome, and her brother-in-law James Elliott, who has Autism.
In the afternoon session, Elliott hosted two dozen school-age students – some with special needs - providing similar activities for them. Every participant took home a NSW Blues football.
“Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and everyone was really engaged the whole time both inside and outside with the things we did,” Elliott said.
“We’re pretty much replicating what we do as athletes in our professional environments.
“But just because we do that doesn’t mean these people can’t also get more engaged with the community and do something outside their comfort zone.
“That builds confidence with the side benefits of meeting new people and enjoying the day.”
After the workshop inside the club room, where everyone discussed short and long-term goals, diet, exercise, their favourite sports teams and players, Apps took them onto the field and put them through a series of warm-up exercises the NSW Women’s Origin team does.
They then did some passing and kicking skills and played a game of touch footy.
“The best thing about today was it was fun,” Apps said.
“I love that Rugby League is so inclusive that we can adapt and accommodate a training and learning environment for everyone.
“They felt part of a team – and we know what that’s like to feel part of a football team.
“So we were able to show that you don’t have to play sport to feel like you belong.”
Elliott founded the Trainer Group Foundation in 2022, a registered not-for-profit organisation, which has allowed her to hold ‘Game Changer’ workshops at various NRL clubs and community centres.
Now she is taking those workshops – supported by NSWRL and Westpac - to nine regional centres.
Tomorrow Elliott will be travelling to Bateman’s Bay, then Lake Illawarra, Wagga Wagga, Orange, Dubbo, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Murwillumbah from 5-23 February.
She is being joined by fellow Origin players Apps, Emma Tonegato, Keeley Davis and Olivia Kernick at various stages of the tour.