Storm prop launches community-based

Tonight will mark the first step in Melbourne Storm prop Kirk Reynoldson?s plan to rebuild junior football in his hometown of Wondoan in the rural area of Western Queensland.

Reynoldson will hold a fundraising dinner auction tonight in aid of his newly formed community project known as the Wandoan Youth Development Foundation, which is aimed at developing the community of Wandoan (350km west of Toowoomba).

Over 100 corporate patrons from around Melbourne will attend the event in a bid to raise money to fund community programs, which it is hoped, will raise awareness of underprivileged youths in rural areas.

The once thriving rugby league community of Wandoan has diminished in recent years but by using his profile as one of the NRL?s most recognisable faces, Reynoldson is keen to make sure the town?s junior rugby league numbers begin to grow again.

?When I was a young bloke in Wandoan the local league was really strong and the whole community was built around it,? Reynoldson said. ?But now the local leagues have all shut down, and the teams I played for don?t exist, which has affected the community.

?So this program is there to build community awareness through football and to get not only the junior rugby league on track, but the senior competition as well.

?When I was the same age as a lot of the underprivileged kids in Wandoan, I always thought that I had been dealt a pretty poor hand being out in a rural community,? Reynoldson added.

?I felt like I didn?t get the same opportunities as some of the city kids and I suppose my self-esteem and my character was affected a little bit because of that attitude.

?One day we actually had the Brisbane Broncos come to our town and looking back on that, I realise that once these kids can make that connection with the people they look up to, they feel they can do almost anything.?

The Wandoan Youth Development Foundation is the result of many years of careful consideration. ?I always wanted to play in the NRL and I?ve always thought that if ever I was in the position to do something, I?d go straight back out into the community and help as much as I could,? Reynoldson said. ?Luckily I?ve found myself in that situation which is why I?m doing everything I can to help out.

?The money I?m trying to generate will go to youth-orientated programs, developing community awareness for those kids that are underprivileged and eventually to build some sporting facilities if possible.? The 25-year-old?s long-term plan for the Foundation is to develop an exchange between the Storm and rugby league juniors in rural areas. ?One day I?d like to develop a youth exchange program where I can bring kids down to the professional scene here in Melbourne and give them a taste, so they feel they can do something in those rural areas,? Reynoldson explained. ?I?ve developed an annual day that we started up there last year called the ?Bush Bash Footy Clinic?. It involves the youth of the community as well as the parents, whereby they can take part in a footy game and enjoy a band as well as a few other things.?

Since organising his own junior clinic in Wandoan during the off-season last year, Reynoldson?s profile, along with that of rugby league?s, has grown dramatically in the tiny Queensland town.

For further information contact James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]