Newcastle Knights NRL players visit Cooranbong Public School to teach lessons of respect and belonging

CHILDREN at Cooranbong Public School received a lesson in respect and belonging when a delegation of Newcastle Knights rugby league players visited on Thursday.

The 30-minute presentation in the school hall was part of the National Rugby League’s Community Carnival initiative.

Each of the NRL clubs has embarked on a month-long series of NRL Community Carnival visits during February, throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Players are meeting with fans in more than 80 communities, and educating students on respect and diversity.

In the local area, the Knights are targeting schools in the Glendale, Southlakes and Macquarie United junior rugby league districts.

NRL game development officer Lyndon Sheppard told the Lakes Mail the focus of this year’s school visits was on “the importance of respect, belonging and celebrating differences both on and off the field”.

The themes in previous Community Carnivals have included ‘Tackling bullying’, and ‘Eat well. Stay well. Play well’, he said.

Newcastle Knights in handshake competition

Knights stars Jamie Buhrer, Nathan Ross, Ken Sio and Brock Lamb were mobbed by excited children as soon as they set foot in the Cooranbong school playground.

During the presentation, Mr Sheppard spoke of the importance of making newcomers – in sporting teams, schools, and neighbourhoods –  feel like they belong.

Nathan Ross meets the Cooranbong kids

Buhrer then took to the microphone to tell of his experience in being welcomed by his new team-mates at Newcastle since leaving the Manly club at the end of 2016.

A highlight for the children was when four volunteers were chosen to learn a fun handshake with the Knights which they got to perform at the assembly.

The presentation featured video footage of NRL stars telling their stories, as well as questions to test the children’s understanding of the lesson.

In one exercise, the four Knights’ players stood at the front of the stage and the children were invited to point out the differences between the men.

Now in its 17th year, the NRL Community Carnival  will reach more than 250,000 children this year.