This is the 11th year the NRL have been running the Community Awards. Last Saturday (30 September) the award winners were announced by the NRL to acknowledge those who help and provide community support.
Parramatta’s Darren Deitz was among the winners, taking home the Volunteer of the Year award, only a few days ago having been awarded the NSWRL “Gordon Lowrie” Volunteer of the year award.
Deitz also claimed the Ray Price NRL Community Award at the 2017 Ken Thornett Medal for the Try Time Rugby League program.
The award recognises someone who has provided exceptional service to the game and made a notable difference in their community through Rugby League.
Darren has been involved in the Rugby League community for over 30 years and established his own program in 2013 called “Try Time” that caters for people with special needs and intellectual disabilities. Originally Darren started the program so his son Lachlan, who is autistic, could have an opportunity to play his most loved game.
The program allows the participants to be a part of Rugby League, and even though on the first trial day only 4 people turned up, Darren persisted and three years later approached Parramatta’s Junior Rugby League program with the opportunity for his participants to go up against the U17 league teams.
It has led to a whole new success for the program, with a competition being set up this year including both junior and senior teams where participants compete in their teams each week against teams from the Junior League. Four years on and the program now has 65 players signed up in the Parramatta District. The program even expands to Penrith with 30 players signed up.
Darren has a strong passion and dedication to the sport which embodies one of the NRL’s most important values of inclusivity. If it wasn’t for him, many that love the game wouldn’t have the chance to play.
Try Time makes a large impact not only on those involved but on the teams that go up against Darren’s boys. Those Junior League players also get back a beneficial life lesson that can impact them far beyond the field of play.
Complete list of 2017 NRL Community Award winners (including Ken Stephen Medallist):
- Grassroots Club of the Year award Presented by Telstra - Murgon Junior Rugby League Football Club
- Volunteer of the Year award - Darren Deitz
- Women in League Achievement Award Presented by Harvey Norman - Jacqueline Jones
- Teacher of the Year award Presented by ACCOR Hotels - Travis McIntosh
- Young Person of the Year award - Courtney Baxter
- NRL Club Community Program of the Year award - ‘Be All In’, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
- Ken Stephen Medal Presented by Telstra - Sam Tagataese, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
To view the winners’ background stories, click here.