Blues play­ers pick up do­nated rugby boots

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - CA­TRIN OWEN

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.

CA­TRIN OWEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Blues play­ers De­clan O’Don­nell, Sam Nock, and Kara Pryor with stu­dent Zaid Bharachi.

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