A 65-year-old gentleman who played footy for three different clubs is now confronting a new battle in his life. Last year, due to poor circulation, he had his left leg amputated below the knee. Not only has this been a dramatic shock to an otherwise healthy person, this loss of limb resulted in the patient losing a large part of his independent lifestyle.
While there is hope he will eventually recuperate to a level which allows him to drive a car, in the current circumstances he requires the use of a motorised scooter to get to the shops, access community facilities as well as visit neighbours and local friends.
So, Family of League have equipped this ex-player with the appropriate scooter equipped with a canopy, plus two years of servicing. As someone who spent many years on the field bring pleasure to footy fans, it is now our turn to show our appreciation.
Facing many battles, this man is desperate for a win
Another ex-footballer (pictured above) is also facing extremely large challenges… and plenty of them. This senior citizen also played for several clubs including junior and senior footy. Once he put the boots away, he continued to contribute to our game via committee involvement.
However, his focus is now dealing with an array of health threats. These include prostate cancer, lung cancer and bone cancer. Plus, he is struggling with heart disease. Compounding all this, several years ago he was injured in a motorcycle accident… resulting in long term issues associated with back and limb fractures.
These health pressures have also compounded his mobility and he desperately requires a motorised scooter to access local facilities.
Again, we have been able to step in and provide assistance to this man’s desperate needs, setting him up with the appropriate scooter as well as a back-up battery. And, as he’s a Bulldogs’ supporter, we provided him with a blue one!
Facing a sudden health catastrophe after decades of footy dedication
A middle-aged man who, together with his immediate family, has spent over 35 years actively involved with rugby league. Either playing (his daughter also ran on to the paddock), coaching, mentoring… even assisting in canteen, front gate, can bar duties as well as selling raffle tickets.
Working as head coach, his health deteriorated to such an extent that he was eventually diagnosed with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment available to treat or even manage this condition. Hence, he will be continued visual impairment for the rest of his life.
He has lost his ability to work and will need considerable support just to undertake routine daily tasks.
This shocking illness has drained the family’s finances, not only with pressure to maintain mortgage and utility payments… but even to put food on the table. Plus, the medical bills are also mounting.
As per the previous wellbeing recipients, Family of League are supporting this gentleman and his family – as it is an honour to show our appreciation to those that have given to our game.
In what has been an extensively busy year with our wellbeing activities, we asked Family of League National Wellbeing Manager, Roxanne Moates, to share her experiences with some of the grants she oversaw while wrapping up 2023.
Roxanne said, “Gradually losing any of our essential six senses as we age can be challenging, however this is not entirely unexpected. Imagine the turmoil your life would be thrown into if in your early 40s you begin to lose your vision? Then, by your mid-40s, your vision has deteriorated to a point where you are no longer able to read the newspaper or see the birds chirping in the trees, let alone make a cup of tea, drive a car, or continue in your chosen field of work? This is the situation that faced a wonderfully community-minded family man on Qld’s Sunshine Coast in early 2023.
Having played Rugby League for over 15 years before moving into coaching and volunteering roles, being physically active was always a huge part of his daily life. Post diagnosis has seen his focus shift to learning to navigate his way around his home again; which he reports he’s now doing so with confidence. Now he is also spending time discovering how to explore the world at large, both safely and independently with the assistance of his newly acquired cane.
It is not unusual to see him out and about in his local community, enjoying the footpath under his feet and the breeze on his face as he goes about his daily fitness routine.
Thanks to the Family of League Foundation supporting him and his family, via our financial grant, he has had one less thing to worry about while he is adjusting to his new normal.”
Roxanne continued with some wonderful words she received from one of her wellbeing clients: “If not for the family of League, we don’t know where we would be? The care and support shown by the people we have worked with is amazing. The Family of League allows us to see light at the end of the tunnel. From the financial assistance to the friendly manner in which we are treated… it is amazing.”
Rox went on to say, “These words echo the sentiments for so many of those that the Foundation assist, but for this family of three, living in a caravan park on the north side of Brisbane, it expresses the desperation and fear they felt when their main breadwinner was unable to work while recovering from leg surgery to remove a cancerous tumour. With recovery taking longer then expected and funds becoming scarce, reaching out to the Foundation was their final hope.
The freedom and promise that financial support provided to this family was demonstrated, not just in the words that they shared, but also in the hope that was restored to them when the promise of a brighter future became a reality.”
Thanks, Roxanne, for this quick glimpse into your activities. Keep up the great work in 2024!
By Leigh Peacock (Committee Wellbeing Coordinator)
Members of the Central Coast Committee were pleased to pay a visit recently to the residents and staff at Our Lady of Loreto Gardens Aged Care facility at Hamilyn Terrace, a suburb of the Central Coast region north of Sydney.
The Committee’s Neville Glover, Leigh Peacock, and Lance Henry were invited to visit by current resident Ron Pomering – a former player with the Roosters and English club, Bramley.
Previously, Ron had been a passionate and highly involved Sydney Metro Committee member with the (formally known) Men of League in Sydney. However, with his own health challenges, he now receives ongoing assistance from the Family of League and Chelsea Old Mates. Jim Williams and his mum, Dot, who is also a resident, were in attendance. Dot expressed her gratitude and appreciation for the ongoing support of Jim by the Foundation.
So, it was our pleasure to meet Ron, Jim, and Dot prior to an introductory presentation about the vision and values of the Family of League Foundation… the charitable heart of rugby league. We explained to the residents the Foundation’s mission is to ensure those most in need within the rugby league community can access financial, social and emotional support.
The residents were a captive audience as many had previously played the game or were volunteers. They were delighted by our visit, asking many questions and were pleasantly surprised by the scope and magnitude of the Foundation’s charitable works.
The smallest battler takes on the biggest of challenges
A large family of seven has recently relocated from North Queensland to the southern part of the state, with the father having run on to the paddocks for the past 15 years for both regions. Sadly, one their young sons, a JRLFC player who hasn’t even reached the age of 10, has now been diagnosed with a form of brain cancer.
He has had a stent inserted into his brain in order to drain excess fluid while also being fitted with a special helmet and body suit to protect him during his many weeks of radiation. This is all to prepare his suitability for operations to remove an array of tumours.
To compound this oppressive situation, the father is also impacted by health issues and is unable to work.
Fortunately, someone in his local footy club contacted the Family of League, and we have been able to alleviate some of the financial pressures this family are currently facing.
On field injury tackles a promising career
A young footy player in his early 20s has also relocated to the big smoke of Sydney from his hometown in Northern NSW. For the past few years he has had a good run with the Harold Matthews Cup as well as the SC Ball teams. Living in the southern suburbs, life seemed quite promising as he split his love of rugby league with his worktime activities. However, he incurred an on-field injury where his shoulder was dislocated, requiring surgery.
While certain medical bills were taken care of by insurance, he has not been able to return to work until he is medically cleared. Living away from home, his bills have been escalating. Plus, he is also under emotional pressure as his mother is suffering from bowl cancer. He was introduced to the Family of League by another player we have assisted, and our wellbeing officers have been able to ‘bridge the financial gap’ and provide a stabilising influence on his precarious situation.
Losing everything, including the roof over their heads
A mother of two has been facing a battle to find accommodation for her family. Having split from her ex-husband several years ago, someone who had initially played during the 80s for junior and senior grades in several NSW clubs, life has been tough as a single mum. Having once been a ball girl for a regional NSW footy club, her parents were also deeply involved with our sport as captain, coach and president of several clubs.
Her ex-husband had been providing enormous assistance to their children through child support and paid for most of the children’s expenses including school fees, excursions, uniforms and sporting registrations, etc. However, he has now passed away leaving her children without a father and very distraught.
Dealing with financial, accommodation and emotional issues has been quite overwhelming for this mum. Dealing with family transport is also a major concern as she suffers from epilepsy and can’t drive, which also impacts her ability to earn an income. Again, like so many people we have assisted this month – and year – Family of League wellbeing officers are assisting this family to a better quality of life.
A young fellow who spends his weekdays fitting accessories to four-wheel-drive vehicles, and weekends running around for his local rugby league team, has hit the wall. Just over a year ago he was taking the ball up when he encountered a body-jarring tackle. Resulting in an injury that required surgery.
Placed on the hospital’s waiting list, as a public healthcare patient it was over a year until he could be operated on. In that time, his sick leave has expired and he hasn’t been able to work or bring in an income.
Although he spent his youth chasing the pill up and down the paddock, nothing prepared him for the physical (as well as psychological) impact this injury would enact. While he has a partner doing the best she can to support him and their household, there single income is not coping with their unbalanced income. With the mountain of bills getting higher and higher, he has reached out to us for support. A helping hand to give him a breather until he is cleared to return to the workplace.
Trying to see a future
A gentleman in his late 40s is also facing an uncertain future, after an extensive 20-year history playing in Australia as well as New Zealand across many grades and clubs. Previously employed as a meatworker, he incurred a grisly injury at his worksite which rendered him unemployed.
Compounding this life-changing event, he also suffers from diabetes which has impacted his ability to see and hear. Although his injury entitles him to receive Workcover, these funds do not cover essentials such as a hearing aid and visual support.
With the aim of getting ‘out of the rut’, he is retraining himself to re-enter the workforce by studying a diploma in youth work.
In the meantime, Family of League are assisting him with his optical and audible equipment needs, and hopefully bridge the gap to employment.
Torn between two towns
A young man from Mid Nth Coast NSW was living the life. He excelled as a local junior and was invited to play with two Sydney teams. Full of excitement about moving to ‘the big smoke’, he relocated from his rural town to a Sydney suburb, and settled into his new life with expectations to go somewhere in our game.
In August this year, while involved in a multi-player tackle, another player landed on his elbow which impacted his shoulder.
Two months later he underwent shoulder surgery, then physiotherapy to assist with optimising the strength and mobility of his arm. While his club’s insurance covers his medical bills, he is now unemployed and has no way to provide for the cost of living.
Unfortunately, while he is surely tempted to return home and mitigate these rising bills, he must stay in Sydney… where he can access the best medical support. Family of League wellbeing officers are providing a solution for him.
A battler from the North
A North Queenslander, slightly shy of age 80, who has spent decades either playing, coaching or working hard in admin for our sport, now faces one of his biggest battles of all: cancer.
He has been continuously fighting this for 4 years, unfortunately he has had to make the tough decision to have his left leg amputated.
He and his wife have retired and are supported by their pension payments, however this does not cover equipment costs associated with this radical change in lifestyle. As is quite common with those of this generation, there is also no super to fall back on.
To provide mobility, Family of League are looking at accessing a wheelchair and other areas of support for this man, as a way of thanking him for his many years of involvement in our great game.
So, while things are quite on our sporting fields, we are still quite busy assisting those in our rugby league family needing a hand, with the above only a small glimpse of the many we have supported this month.
This Queensland gentleman, who has served our sport well as a referee, now has a battle with cancer. This has impacted his ability to work and keep the bills at bay. The resultant pressure on his health as well as financial concerns of providing for his family have had a tremendous impact. Fortunately, his local Family of League committee heard about his situation and are supporting him and his family through this rough patch.
A family of battlers.
A wonderful lady who maintains a happy household with her husband and 4 children has had her life devastated with cancer. Having regularly volunteered at her footy canteen as well as assisting the rugby league teams, which 3 of her kids played for, this self-confessed ‘Parra fanatic’ adores her family’s connection with the game, while her family have also been greatly embraced by their local club.
Originally from Sydney, they moved to a Queensland community where they feel supported, and the location offers reasonable access to a major hospital. Sadly, she has been told her cancer is not curable… however it is treatable. Although, to make matters worse, her loving husband suffered a massive stroke which has impacted his ability to work.
Receiving limited government support, Family of League has been able to financially bridge the gap and be there for this family as they traverse their way through some dark days.
When business stops.
A family that had few concerns about finance have had their world turn upside down with the recent passing of the family’s father. Having overseen their children playing local community footy in and around Southeast Queensland, the mother is now confronted with some serious, and mounting, bills.
Though the father ran his own business and had health cover, the insurance payout is uncertain as the insurance company is disputing the precise nature of his passing. While this payment would be incredibly helpful, the family has been advised it may take another 12 months to determine an outcome , which has been overwhelming for the mother as she has had to wind up the business and even pay staff out, before any funds go to the family.
Meanwhile, the gap between income and outgoings increases at a progressive rate. Again, as they were connected to a local rugby league community in contact with Family of League, we are there with support.
A big step backwards in life.
A young apprentice roofer in the prime of life, someone who has run on the paddock for the past 3 seasons for his local community team, has incurred a radical change in life by breaking his foot in several places. The latest medical examination suggests a possible timeframe of around 6 months until his foot is capable of maintaining the correct balance and strength required when straddling rooftops during his day-to-day workload.
Living by himself, with no income and Centrelink delayed in offering assistance, all this fellow needs is a temporary helping hand to hold back the financial (and psychological) pressures and help him get back on his feet while he recovers.
These few examples are only a handful of the wellbeing recipients we have been able to assist this September. Stay tuned for next month’s update as we share how Family of League continues to make a difference to our wider rugby league family.
Nothing was too much trouble for Barry Ross when it came to helping a friend in need or contributing to sporting good causes.
He held a special place in his heart for rugby league, and had a legion of friends from the code because of his willingness to help out and to be involved, whether at an official level or in the background.
Barry contributed countless articles to the Family of League Magazine over many years, and was involved in a host of welfare activities associated with the Foundation. In recent years, for instance, he gave his time to assist former Test halfback, Steve ‘Turvey’ Mortimer, who is battling ill-health.
A product of Wollongong High, Barry played under-18s in Wollongong with future Immortal, Graeme Langlands. Barry continued playing league in the seniors, in the Parramatta District, and also played first grade cricket. He became a teacher, and the expertise he gained from that profession, plus his love and knowledge of sport, helped him land a job as television commentator: Rex Mossop’s right hand man for match broadcasts… with the duo covering 30 Grand Finals, a host of inter-state games and tests. Barry covered the 1978 and 1982 Kangaroo tours of Britain and France, and also accompanied Rex to the Olympic Games.
When the Broncos burst on the scene in 1988, Barry became their Sydney stats man. In 1990, he even drove Broncos’ legend, Wally Lewis, to Sutherland Hospital after Wally broke his arm playing against St George.
The affection Barry had for the game is illustrated by the fact he took it on himself to show French players around the Sutherland Shire in 1981, when he sensed the touring side was not being looked after by the League administration of the time.
Manly players, Englishman, John Gray, and dashing winger, Tom Mooney, were best man and groomsman respectively on Barry’s wedding day.
One of the stories Barry wrote for the magazine was the result of a reunion he arranged between Englishman, Bob Blackwood, and legendary Australian Test forward, Bob McCarthy, who had been combatants on the 1973 Kangaroo tour. They had not seen each other since that tour, and Barry got them together during Blackwood’s visit to Australia in 2019.
Barry, a keen historian, wrote several books on a variety of topics. One that he took great pride in was detailing the history of the Gerringong Rugby League Club on the South Coast of New South Wales.
A noted public speaker and MC, he was always in demand and had friends across all sporting codes… especially rugby league and rugby union.
He and Susan had been married for 47 wonderful years and were blessed with sons David and Nathan. It goes without saying, he loved to watch his grandchildren play sport.
A wonderful life fulfilled, but taken from us too soon. We will always remember Barry… especially for his very amusing sayings.
August… traditionally a time of bitter, cold and depressing winds. However, we kick off this month with a positive story of how this resilient 49-year-old single mother’s experience is a testament to the positive impact the Family of League has in our community. She has endured unimaginable challenges, including homelessness and extreme domestic violence, all while caring for her children. These hardships could have easily overwhelmed her, but with the support of the Family of League, she found a lifeline – socially, emotionally, and financially.
In recent months, her life has taken a remarkable turn. She made the courageous decision to enrol in a Certificate IV in Community Services through TAFE, a step towards securing stability and financial independence for her family’s future. Her youngest son is on the cusp of high school and faces a significant hurdle. Without access to a home computer, he is struggling to complete his schoolwork, a vital component of his education.
Recognising the importance of education, the Family of League stepped in to provide invaluable support. They offered assistance in the form of food vouchers to ease the family’s immediate needs. Additionally, they provided a new iPad. This device not only allows the mother to complete her coursework but also empowers her son to excel in his studies as he transitions into high school.
The story of this family is a powerful reminder of how community support can lift individuals and families out of the darkest of circumstances. Through the kindness of the Family of League, they are now on a path towards a brighter, more promising future, filled with hope, stability, and opportunity.
On-field assistance from Family of League
Imagine playing the game you love with your young family on the sideline cheering you on, this is how the game started for this 25-year-old father. Unfortunately, his day took a turn for the worse when his elbow was dislocated during the game.
Fortunately, luck was on his side as one of our dedicated volunteer Wellbeing Officers was present at the field. With a swift response, they organized an Immediate Action Grant to help alleviate the financial burden that came with his inability to work during his recovery. The Family of League stepped in with food and fuel vouchers, offering essential support to assist with his general living expenses.
This heart-warming story is not an isolated incident. In fact, this month alone, the Family of League has been a beacon of hope for at least five grassroots players facing similar challenges. These instances remind us of the power of community and the incredible impact that organisations like the Family of League can have on the lives of those who are passionate about their sport and dedicated to their families.
When inside the home is more dangerous than outside
Imagine having to pack up your entire life and move to a new, unfamiliar place. No savings, minimal property and lots of unknowns. This move isn’t the first time you’ve needed to ‘start over.’ In fact, it’s not even the second, but instead the third time you’ve had to make this life impacting change. Moving with you are your three young children… so yet again they are ‘uprooted’ from all that is familiar to them, their school, their friends and their local footy club. Now imagine that you are making this move on your own as the domestic and family violence that you and your children are experiencing means that you are no longer safe to live under the same roof.
This is the very challenging reality currently facing a family that our Melbourne Committee has been working closely with for almost a year now. The Foundation has provided emotional, physical, and financial support through two of their moves by not only assisting them to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table while everything around them was in turmoil but to also be there for coffee catch ups and supportive phone check ins as needed.
To allow this family to begin to create some new happy memories, they recently had the opportunity to attend the Melbourne Storm Captains run prior to their game against the Gold Coast Titans… entering the hallowed ground of AAMI Park to welcome the teams to the field. The smiles on their faces said it all – today is a good day and we are grateful for the chance to be reminded that thanks to the Rugby League Community we all love and cherish being a part of – we are not alone.
A cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly one of the most life-altering and distressing events a family can experience. It creates a ripple effect of emotional and practical challenges that impact not only the patient but their entire support network.
Imagine the shock and heartache of receiving the news that your vibrant 17-year-old daughter, who loves football and has her whole life ahead of her, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In an instant, her world is turned upside down. She faces the harsh reality of being seriously ill, enduring the physical toll of chemotherapy and coping with the devastating loss of her hair. The activities she once enjoyed, like playing football and spending time with friends, become distant dreams as she grapples with the unpleasant side effects of treatment.
For parents, this journey is equally distressing. Witnessing their child’s illness takes an emotional toll that is impossible to fully describe. The constant hospital visits, the financial burden of medical expenses, and the challenges of balancing work and caregiving all contribute to an overwhelming sense of helplessness and stress.
In the midst of this turmoil, the Family of League offers a beacon of hope and support. Their willingness to step in during a family’s darkest hours, both emotionally and financially, provides a lifeline when it is needed most. By offering practical assistance, such as fuel vouchers, they alleviate some of the logistical challenges that families face during this difficult time.
In essence, the support provided by the Family of League extends far beyond the tangible. It offers solace, strength, and a sense of belonging to families grappling with the ‘new normal’ brought about by a cancer diagnosis. It shows that even in the darkest of times, acts of kindness and compassion can light the way forward.
A legend of the game was recently referred to the Family of League due to his current unfortunate circumstances. This well-known proud Indigenous man was a legend of the game through the 1970s/80s. He played professionally for both Balmain and Canberra Raiders, even representing NSW Country against a touring Great Britain side. After retirement from the game, he was a coach and a prominent Indigenous worker within the NSW Rugby League community.
The later years of his life have brought about many permanent medical conditions, requiring hospitalisation for around 18 months. Exiting hospital, he has found himself in an overwhelming position of a marriage breakdown and no permanent home.
Our wellbeing officer has worked alongside him to ensure he has the finances to keep all his personal possessions as well as someone to discuss his many confronting issues. A caring ear that not only provides support through this transition… but also reflect and reminisce with this gentleman about his wonderful rugby league experiences.
A case of two hands doing the work of many
If you’re a wise man, you’ll never argue against that famous saying: ‘Behind every good bloke, there’s always an exceptional woman (or similar). A saying that sums up this couple. Known as a formidable pair in rugby league circles… with a passion for youth clinics, pathways and development in regional NSW. He was a proud Indigenous man who worked as a regional Indigenous development officer; his passionate wife worked tirelessly behind the scenes to support her husband and the rugby league community. She was his partner in crime and a jack-of-all-trades. A mother to two children with six grandchildren, while also acting as a rugby administrator, financial controller, plus den-mother on four international tours.
Sadly, in 2019 her husband passed away from cancer. She has since struggled with not only losing her best friend but also dealing with the emotional, social and financial hardships of being on her own.
Family of League is embracing her passionate commitment to our beloved sport, and supporting her journey back to good health and prosperity. We have been able to assist her with getting her kitchen renovations completed and covering her home insurance for the next year.
A case very close to home
One of our own wellbeing officers required support from the Family of League. Well known in his rugby league community, he has been part of the Men of League, then Family of League community from the beginning, 21 years ago.
Having incurred multiple shoulder surgeries over the past few years, the hope is his most recent operation will sort out persistent health issues. Enduring a journey of approx 150 km each way to surgery, he was hoping to leave hospital after 3 to 5 days and head back home. Unfortunately, due to several reasons, his recovery has taken longer than anticipated as he spends his fourth week in the ward.
Family of League was able to support, with a visit over a coffee and a warm chat… as well as financial assistance to cover his wife’s travel cost when visiting him. We wish this gentleman a healthy recovery for here, as well as our other wellbeing recipients previously mentioned… plus the multitude we also cared for this month. Stay healthy and happy, everyone!
The Chair of the Family of League Foundation Helen Wood Grant today announced the appointment of Peter Affleck to the position of Non-Executive Director of rugby league’s charity of choice, Family of League, effective immediately.
Peter has enjoyed a long association with rugby league both as a player and coach in Queensland and also through his commitment to Family of League. He was selected in South West Queensland’s 1978 representative team from outback Quilpie and spent the late 70s and early 80s playing for the Fortitude Valley Diehards Club in the Brisbane Rugby League pre-Broncos era. He then coached Beenleigh to a Grand Final in the strong Gold Coast competition in 1988. Peter continues to be heavily involved with Valley’s Old Boys association and has been honoured under the Diehards ‘True Blue’ banner for his contributions to the Club.
Chair of Family of League, Helen Wood Grant, said “Peter’s contribution to the Foundation has been notable since first being part of our Brisbane Committee some years ago prior to his establishment of the Moreton Committee. I am delighted to welcome him to the Board and look forward to all he will no doubt contribute. The Moreton Committee is a forward-looking and successful one, with Peter’s Committee colleagues loud in their praise for the time, management expertise, integrity and inspiration he brings to their team. My fellow directors and I look forward to benefiting from those attributes and his impressive professional pedigree.”
The Directorship is a continuation of Peter’s strategic and leadership contribution to the Foundation. In 2018 he was the founding President of the Moreton Committee. He remains in that role and has led his Committee to ever increasing success in fundraising and community outreach. He was invited in 2022 to be an external member of the Board’s National Wellbeing Committee which provides advice to the Board on a range of matters including financial grants and provides support to Family of League Wellbeing Executives and to Committee Wellbeing Officers.
A few weeks ago Peter was announced as the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Queensland Steve Calder Volunteer of the Year award, in recognition of his tireless work in the Moreton area and beyond.
Peter’s professional capabilities developed during his impressive corporate career bring expertise and knowledge to the Board across workplace accommodation, finance, governance, communications, relationship-building and change management. His understanding of the opportunities and challenges the valued volunteers at the heart of Family of League face through his role as Committee President brings another lens through which Board decisions can be viewed. He is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
“It is with great pleasure that I accept this role. I will continue to do all I can to contribute insight and direction to Family of League Foundation, now as a Board member. The extraordinary work Family of League does across the rugby league community is life-changing. I have seen at the coalface how much the financial, emotional or social care we deliver gives individuals, their families and indeed communities hope. I look forward to collaborating with my fellow Directors under the leadership of the Chair and to being part of the Foundation’s evolution.“