The Dyldam Parramatta Eels have paid a visit to 16 schools across Alice Springs to promote #tacklebullying, the NRL’s anti-bullying initiative.
The players shared some of their own bullying experiences with over 1200 children in the region, as Game Development and educational staff from Sydney and the Northern Territory taught the groups the five steps to #tacklebullying – Stand Strong; Stay Calm; Respond Confidently; Walk Away and Report.
Dyldam Parramatta Eels forward Ben Smith, an ambassador for the Black Dog Institute, took great pride in explaining the role players have in delivering the #tacklebullying message.
“As athletes and role models in the community, we have a responsibility to put our best foot forward and show the young kids that if you act your best and put your best foot forward, its not right to bully, and we have a right to say no to that,” Smith said.
"Bullying is a part of everything as a young kid growing up, and for us as the NRL and as a team trying to promote anti-bullying, it’s something we don’t want to stand for and we don’t accept.”
Accompanying the players to Centralian Middle School was NT Chief Minister Hon. Adam Giles, who saw today as an example of the positive impact the Eels can have through not just playing games in the region, but being leaders in the community.
“The game Saturday night is one element of the partnership, but getting out to schools and spreading the message about being good to your family, being a good community citizen and also spreading the message about anti-bullying and what you can do for your fellow students and your fellow community members at a young age is a really important message," Mr. Giles said.
With the Parramatta Eels playing their first trial match for the season against the Wests Tigers this Saturday night, Smith says he's excited to get out onto the field.
"You do take it seriously - some guys look at it to blow the cobwebs out, and we do have a few young blokes playing as well," he said.
"But obviously we have the Auckland Nines next week, so we’re saving a few guys like that, but if you don’t give it your all, you can be left a bit embarrassed, so we’re here to play football."