Wests Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri’s inspiring efforts to raise awareness for men’s cancer and his commitment to helping children to read and a Queensland woman’s 22 years of service to grass-roots Rugby League, have earned them August’s In a League of Their Own Award.
Last month saw Tuqiri reach his goal of raising $40,000 for the Blue September campaign – a Big Health Foundation initiative which encourages all Australians to 'Get Blue' and face up to cancer in men.
Tuqiri is determined to raise funds and awareness for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and Australian Prostate Cancer Research, with Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics showing that one in two Australian men will be diagnosed with some form of cancer by the age of 85, and over 22,000 die from the disease every year.
“I didn’t realise that so many men are affected by cancer; men don’t often talk about these things, so I was more than happy to lend a hand to such a great cause,” Tuqiri said.
“I am humbled by the support I have received, to raise over $40,000 for such a great cause is a wonderful achievement. I would like to thank all of the businesses and people who supported me.”
Tuqiri is also heavily involved with the Exodus Foundation’s Tutorial Centre Literacy Program MULTILIT (‘Making Up Lost Time in Literacy’) to help children at the Ashfield Tutorial Centre learn to read and assist them in understanding the importance reading has in their futures.
Also hard at work in the community is 40-year-old Gin Gin Rugby League Club local registrar, Sonya Olsen, who this month will be recognised for her 22 years commitment to her local club in south-east Queensland as a finalist in the ‘Toyota National Volunteer of the Year’ category at Rugby League’s One Community Awards in Sydney.
Described by Wide Bay Rugby League co-ordinator John Bignell as the “cement that holds the game together” in Gin Gin, Agnes Water, Miriam Vale, Avondale and South Kolan, Olsen works at the local primary school, organises game day and presentation nights, writes match reports, and records the results and statistics.
“I was brought up watching and playing cricket in the summer and league in the winter so rugby league has always been a part of my life and I cannot imagine life without it,” she said.
“There are several factors about grass-roots footy that I enjoy and they are sitting close to the sideline at games, seeing close up the big hits and ball skills, mixing with the players and how clubs help each other out.”
Australian Rugby League Commission General Manager of Community, Culture and Diversity, Ms Trish Crews, said: “Lote and Sonya’s achievements are yet more examples of how the Rugby League community from the grass-roots to the elite level so often go above and beyond their everyday responsibilities to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
The In a League of Their Own Award acknowledges the inspiring community work of NRL players and women in Rugby League.
As award winners, Tuqiri will receive one night’s accommodation including breakfast for two courtesy of NRL sponsor the Holiday Inn; and Olsen will receive a voucher from NRL sponsor OPSM to choose a pair of sunglasses from their range of world leading brands.