By Stuart Kavanagh
The kids at Burke Ward Public School had a real treat on Thursday morning when they received a visit from Rugby League royalty.
Willie Mason, former Australian and Tongan international, and New South Wales State of Origin representative, was joined by Samoan and Aussie international Remi Maitua and former superstar of both codes, now heavyweight boxer, Sonny Bill Williams, as a part of the Deadly Blues partnership with Deadly Choices.
Remi Maitua put it best when he described what the trio were attempting to do with kids in country NSW. “Blues deadly choices go out into the country and talk to kids about eating healthy food.”
The footy legends first gave the kids a talk on healthy ‘deadly’ choices. Willie Mason highlighted the importance of drinking water to the kids, they seemed resistant at first, but the charm of the 13-time NSW origin rep won the kids over in the end.
After that, the legendary trio ran some drills with the kids before doing photos and autographs. They also had some swag for the kids at the activity’s’ end.
Willie Mason also made himself available to the media and it was clear talking to him he’s passionate about the work he and his colleagues are doing in rural areas.
“Coming out to the country, Broken Hill, Menindee and Wilcannia, they [the kids] don’t get to see a Sonny Bill Williams; you know what I mean?”
“We’re trying to educate young kids on healthy lifestyle, making better choices in life, not just food-wise, but manners as well, all that sort of stuff.”
“They’re such sponges, you got to educate them early. I think knowledge is power, and education is power.”
Mason said he and other Australian sporting stars need to ensure that the healthy lifestyle message permeates rural parts of Australia.
He highlighted how rewarding the program was and said he felt the responsibility fell to him to deliver the message.
He said he was grateful to be in a position where he could mentor kids about their choices.
“I have a lot of gratitude for the life I have made for myself,” Willie said. “It’s the same for Remi [Maitua]. It’s the same for Sonny [Bill Williams].
Now we have time to come out here and try and educate the youth. They’re the future. We are here, and we love it.”
After our chat, it was back to the kids, taking photos and reinforcing the healthy lifestyle message.
There is no question the work Willie and the Deadly Blues program do is crucial to at-risk kids in Australia’s rural centres.
It is making a difference too.
If you could see the kids’ faces as this message was delivered to them today, undoubtedly, the information was hitting home.
If you’d like to learn more about the health checks and programs Deadly Choices provides, head to deadlychoices.com.au