Twelve Aboriginal children from a community called Yirrkala in far north-east Arnhem Land had the time of their lives meeting their heroes at Melbourne Storm yesterday.
The children, some of which had never left their community before the flight to Melbourne in the early hours of yesterday morning, watched their idols train, enjoyed a game of touch football with the players and had a bar-b-que with the entire squad.
Star fullback Billy Slater was definitely the star of the show for several of the children.
�I almost tackled Billy Slater,� said an excited Luke Gurruwiwi to the Herald Sun.
�He isn�t that fast.�
However, Slater�s brilliance on the football field and his proficiency on the didgeridoo are poles apart.
�I was terrible,� Slater said.
�But the boys all had a good laugh, and that�s what things like this are all about.�
Former Storm full-back and premiership player Robbie Ross was the catalyst for getting current star winger Matt Geyer and the Storm players involved in the program.
�Robbie introduced me to Matt Hollard, who helps coordinate the program here in Melbourne,� Matt told the Herald Sun.
�He said he was keen to bring a few kids down to Melbourne and watch us train. I told him we could do better than that, so we organised some Storm kits for them to take away, a bar-b-que and a game of touch footy.�
Matt Hollard was ecstatic at the reception the children received from the players.
�The boys were nominated by community leaders and they have been so excited,� Hollard told the Herald Sun.
�Most of them haven�t been outside of Darwin, or been on a plane before, so the whole experience has been amazing. For them to meet their sporting idols hopefully inspires them to be the best they can be.�
ARMtour, through their enlightening program, attempts to educate communities in remote areas to stay in school; stay off the 'grog', don't sniff petrol or misuse any other substances; take care of your bodies by eating healthy foods and drinking healthy drinks; and to play sport to have fun and keep fit.
Many athletes and entertainment stars including cricketer Alan Border, TV personality Santo Cilauro, basketballer Chris Anstey and AFL footballer Luke Darcy are all involved in ARMtour.
In other Storm news:
Storm second rower, Peter Robinson has become the face of the Bone Marrow Donor Institute�s �Footy Colours Day�.
Along with Hawthorn captain Richie Vandenberg and Melbourne Victory�s Michael Ferrante, Robinson will adorn the offices and classrooms of every business and school in Victoria in the lead up to �Footy Colours Day� on Friday, September 2nd.
'Footy Colours Day� is an opportunity for adults and children alike to go to work and school wearing the colours of their favourite football team. Everyone who participates contributes a gold coin that is then donated to the Bone Marrow Donor Institute (BMDI) for the fight against cancer in children.
Each year approximately 700 children in Australia are diagnosed with some form of cancer. This can demand an enormous amount of treatment including radiotherapy, chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant and requires a long recovery period. For example, a child with leukaemia recovering from a bone marrow transplant may be away from school for up to two years.
To ensure the mental and physical skill of these young patients continue to develop, rather than being disadvantaged when they return to school, the Bone Marrow Donor Institute�s developed the Back On Track Program.
It is a vital project that allows these children to maintain a positive self-image, something cancer can ravage almost as much as it does the body.
The program has two components, focusing on education and rehabilitation. The educational component involves an individually designed program to keep children in contact with their schools and undertaking studies during recovery periods.
In conjunction with the Educational Institute at the Royal Children�s Hospital, the program works with the student�s school and teachers to form an educational plan. The program also uses technology, such as the virtual classroom, to help students keep connected with their teachers and peers.
The physical rehabilitation component, for which we are seeking funding, focuses on helping children overcome the physical impact of cancer treatment. Chemotherapy, surgery and other forms of treatment can ravage their young bodies and being able to provide specialised programs addressing their needs can assist in them being able to return to their communities more quickly and easily.
For further information contact the Melbourne Storm: 03 8412 4900 or Chris Couch: 0407 154 836