The Narrandera Junior Lizards had the opportunity of a lifetime when they went to Canberra to play in a warm-up match before the Raiders’ game.
Shaun Lyons put forward a nomination for the Junior Lizards to play with the Raiders, and when the team were approved some eight families bundled their kids together for the three hour drive to Canberra.
“They picked us and we were lucky enough to go,” said Stacie Mohr, who took her own son down to Canberra to play. “There are four teams that play before the game. We were probably the ones who’d travelled the furthest. A lot of the teams were from much closer.
“There is a big push at the NRL for bush footy at the moment. There has to be – they consider places like Newcastle regional, so it’s a bit of a correction.”
The families travelled down to Canberra in a convoy, getting to the stadium in time for the 1.30pm game. The families were also given tickets to stay and watch the game.
“At 1.15 we were met at the tunnel, so the kids got to run onto the field through the tunnel the way the NRL players do,” Ms Mohr said. “Each team is a allowed a coach on the field, because at the end of the day they’re still learning and there’s certain rules they have to follow, like making sure the ball gets thrown a certain amount of times so every kid gets a go.
“The whole thing was over in about ten minutes. We got beaten 2-1, but they didn’t care. They just wanted more, more football. To see them have that experience – what kid doesn’t dream of playing on an NRL field?”
While the game itself might have been over quickly, there was plenty at the stadium for the kids to do.
“We were lucky enough to meet some of the players, and the kids met the coach. They had a lot of stuff for kids; the police had a stall out the front, so the kids could have a go in the cop car.
“After the game they got a free t-shirt. And they were filmed, they were on the big screen, and they were able to stay and watch the game,” Ms Mohr said. “All the kids were so well behaved, and they just carried themselves so well.”