2017 NSW Young Achiev­ers Tour

Dubbo Photo News - - Sport - By SARAH HAR­VEY

THIS year marks the tenth year of the NSW Young Achiev­ers Tour, and three lo­cal footy play­ers were lucky enough to be a part of life chang­ing trip.

Colby Peck­ham, Kaleb Kear­ney and Tom Stimp­son have been play­ing in the lo­cal rugby league com­pe­ti­tion for years and it’s their ded­i­ca­tion and pas­sion that earnt them a spot on this year’s U16’s tour to Papa New Guinea.

The NSW Young Achiev­ers tour be­gan back in 2007 af­ter head of ad­min­is­tra­tion for PGN rugby league, Jeff Wade reached out to for­mer Nyn­gan Tigers coach Col Wright to ex­press his con­cern for the lack of high pro­file foot­ball play­ers mak­ing the trip to his com­mu­nity.

Be­ing from a ru­ral area him­self, Col knew what it was like to have no one want­ing to travel the dis­tance to play against his team and so he be­gan mak­ing plans to take an U16’s team to PNG to com­pete and af­ter get­ting per­mis­sion from the NWSRL as­so­ci­a­tion in 2008, Col and his team set off on the first of many tours.

While in PNG, the team com­peted in two in­tense games against U16’s Aroma Coast and U16’s PNG. In between games they we’re also lucky enough to dine and meet play­ers of the U16s PNG, PNG Orchids, the Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ters XIII and Jil­la­roos teams, which was a ma­jor high­light for many of the play­ers.

The boys gave it their all in their first game against Aroma Coast and it paid off se­cur­ing a win with a score of 16 to 4. The cur­tain raiser played against PNG was a nail biter to say the least, with Col stat­ing it could have gone ei­ther way. The boys un­for­tu­nately lost 26 to 12 but are to be com­mended on their in­cred­i­ble ef­forts and the sports­man­ship shown on the day.

When they we’re play­ing foot­ball they spent their time vis­it­ing schools and hospi­tals in the vil­lage, hang­ing out with the lo­cal kids and learn­ing about their cul­ture. They were given the op­por­tu­nity to trek part of the Kokoda track, learn­ing about its rich his­tory and Aus­tralian con­nec­tions. Col says he loves be­ing able to of­fer this life chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to the team.

“It’s not just about foot­ball, they ex­pe­ri­ence and learn so much along the way. See­ing th­ese kids who have noth­ing still be so happy and smil­ing, it makes them ap­pre­ci­ate what they have in Aus­tralia.”

Col wants to thank everyone who sup­ported this year’s tour, with a spe­cial thanks to Wes Maas who kindly do­nated train­ing gear to this year’s team. He com­mends the boys of their in­cred­i­ble be­hav­iour through­out the tour, proudly stat­ing they we’re by far the best be­haved crew he’s had.

Plan­ning for next year’s tour is al­ready un­der­way, to find out how you can get in­volved or for more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Col on [email protected]­pond.com.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED.

The Un­der-16s team who re­cently re­turned from this year’s NSW Young Achiev­ers Tour in Papua New Guinea.

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