On a breezy autumn evening at Roseville Juniors Rugby Club, kids were tackling, dogs were bounding and parents were sizzling sausages. The sense of community was palpable with grassroots rugby being at its most vibrant.
The reason for all the action? Roseville Juniors were scoring a $3,000 cheque for outperforming 360-odd clubs in AGL’s Power to Play fundraising program in 2016, an initiative that brought much-needed funds to rugby union clubs across New South Wales.
There to run a series of training drills for over 70 ecstatic juniors from Roseville teams were NSW Waratahs stars Michael Wells and Andrew Kellaway.
And for the soon-to-be 24-year-old back-rower Wells, it was somewhat of a homecoming. Now a much beloved figure around these parts of North Sydney, Roseville Juniors is where Wells’ star first began to rise – so he knows more than anyone just how important supporting grassroots rugby is for the future of the game.
(Please note AGL’s Power to Play fundraising program has now closed)
“It’s good that AGL is helping the juniors with the cheque for rugby equipment, and it might help a few of the players go on to play at higher levels – even the Waratahs,” said Wells, who has played for the Australia under-20s and Australia Sevens.
“It’s really exciting getting $3000 from AGL today,” said Sven Graham, president of Roseville Juniors. “One of the problems for a small club is attracting sponsorship, as that is the main way we purchase jerseys for the boys.
“At this level, it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about the kids really enjoying themselves and their parents enjoying the social side of the rugby club.”
That’s exactly why AGL partnered with NSW Rugby from 2016-17, allowing customers to nominate a club of their choice to receive a donation of up to $150 from AGL. Over $45,000 was donated to grassroots clubs through the program – helping local rugby union clubs bring in dollars for much-needed equipment.
As the training drills wound down, one of Sydney’s typical April storms struck – sending kids, dogs, and parents alike inside the clubhouse to enjoy a barbecue, and to get photographs, balls and headgear signed by Wells and Kellaway.
“It’s fun to be back at the club where it all began for me and to see that the kids are just as passionate to play the game as I was at their age,” said Wells.