Blues players pick up donated rugby boots
An Auckland intermediate school had a special visit from Blues players last week, but it wasn’t for a lesson in rugby.
Blues’ players visited Remuera Intermediate School to pick up 110 pairs of donated, preloved rugby boots as part of the Blues’ ‘‘best food forward’’ initiative.
Head boy Zaid Bharachi said the school collected the boots in the last couple of weeks to give to those less fortunate.
‘‘One in three kids live in poverty and can’t afford rugby boots. We at Remuera Intermediate didn’t want that,’’ he said.
Blues brand and community general manager Robyn Rowley said the initiative had been popular.
‘‘The programme came about in a conversation about boots for boys, but we didn’t want to exclude girls as more girls are starting to play and rugby is all about being really inclusive,’’ Rowley said.
The Blues identified schools and clubs in the Auckland region that were deserving of boots such as Aorere College in South Auckland.
Last month All Blacks legend Keven Mealamu made a quick stop to his former school Aorere College to drop off some of the collected boots.
Mealamu was there to make sure kids in the South Auckland have one less barrier to playing rugby.
‘‘Part of the objective is to give kids opportunities to be part of a team and learn lessons and skills through this,’’ Rowley said.
Players and staff at the Blues mucked in cleaning and relacing the donated boots before they went to new homes.
Blues players Kara Pryor, Sam Nock and Declan O’Donnell attended the school to pick up the boots.
They all recalled how they had to play in older brothers or cousins boots before getting their first new pair.
Nock had to mow the lawns five times before his mum agreed to buy him a pair of boots.
‘‘I still have them today with the mud still on them,’’ Nock said.
Rowley said the donation by the school was the biggest yet and despite the campaign being in its pilot stage, the Blues were working towards a long-term commitment.
Collection bins have been set up at Blues’ home games and boots can be dropped off at the Blues High Performance Centre in Epsom during office hours.
Blues players Declan O’Donnell, Sam Nock, and Kara Pryor with student Zaid Bharachi.