Star NRL players from the Dragons and the Panthers have visited Wellington as part of the cross-state ‘Road to Regions’ tour.
Rugby League players Tim Grant, Euan Aitken and Parkes’ own Talesha Quinn visited some of Wellington’s schools in order to educate the students about concepts such as cyber security and personal safety.
After that, the group moved to Kennard Park where they ran a Rugby League skills clinic along with Simaima Taufa and NRLW veteran Ruan Sims for a crowd of overwhelmed fans.
“I was really impressed by the schools, they seem like they’ve got a really good system there, in terms of the kids, they were all enthusiastic, it was good to see so many smiling faces,” Aitken said.
“There’s definitely some talent out in Wellington, a couple of the kids running around at the clinic were definitely showing off some skills, so it was very positive.”
Talesha Quinn, who grew up in Parkes and signed with the Dragons last June, left Wellington similarly impressed with the township’s commitment to it’s sport.
“I’ve never been given the opportunity to come back out to the country, being a country kid myself, so to get to come back here and give back to the communities is really, really important to me and the kids have been absolutely unbelievable,” Quinn said.
“To see the smiles on their faces at the coaching clinic and to help teach kids the basics and helpfully instill that passion that I have into the kids and grow the rugby league community out here.
“Obviously, there isn’t much for kids to do out here when you’re younger and sport’s such a massive thing that’s impacted my life, so hopefully I can help put that back into the communities and help some people pursue their dreams.”
Quinn has already experienced some of the hardships that women in the country can face getting into sport and had some words of encouragement for the upcoming talent that’s been developing in some of the women’s country leagues.
“I think it’s amazing that the girls are coming through now, and the country girls especially, there are so many undiscovered, talented men and women out here,” she said.
“I think the push at the moment, for me, is for the females, but coming from the country there are actually a few girls that actually play in my local club team up in Sydney for the Mounties who are from Orange and Bathurst.”
“It is a big thing and a big commitment, having to come from the country to travel to Sydney, but I think if you love the sport as much as I do and as much as those girls do, it doesn’t matter how far you’ve got travel and how much it can cost, you’ll do it because you love the game,” Quinn said.
Following the clinic, the visitors moved to the Wellington Soldiers Club for a presentation of the NRL’s ‘State of Mind’ program that aims to better educate people about mental health, before heading onto Dubbo for the final leg of the tour.