The St George Illawarra Dragons would like to congratulate Gary Fa’afua on being named the NRL ‘National Volunteer of the Year’ at the annual NRL One Community Awards on Thursday.
Fa’afua has been dedicated to strengthening his community through Rugby League for the past 18 years.
He is currently a Director on the Executive Board at St George JRLC and worked to establish Rugby League Samoa NSW, where he is the president of the organisation.
More than 260 guests, including former and current players, NRL club officials, award nominees, sponsors and guests attended the inspiring ceremony held at Carriage Works to celebrate the people that make the game happen on a grassroots level.
Dragons captain Ben Creagh was unlucky not to receive the 2014 Ken Stephen’s Medal for his tireless work in the community.
The University of Wollongong junior was runner-up for the Ken Stephen’s Medal last season and is actively involved in in various community activities off the field.
Creagh co-founded the Athlete Education Foundation and Graduates of League program at the University of Wollongong after firsthand knowledge of experiencing the difficulties in juggling a university course with the rigors of NRL training in 2011.
The Dragons in partnership with the UOW, supported eight players initially and this year the program is in the midst of employing over 45 peer tutors supporting 30 athletes at UOW.
The results to date have been outstanding, with failure rates dropping from 40% to 2%, whilst the program itself now nationally sponsored by the NRL
Creagh received the RLPA award for Education in 2012 in recognition for his great work in co- founding ‘Graduates of League’ and his role in encouraging others, players and kids to value education.
In line with this role, he has been instrumental in supporting the new resource NRL Stats Attack, a Maths resource which is used by Dragons Community staff.
The Dragons skipper also recently co-founded Smartfox Education, a small community education / after school tuition centre at the Jubilee Community Centre in Kogarah.
The centre is a collaboration with senior educational consultants and academics that provides affordable high quality tuition in the Dragons local community.
Creagh attends the centre each week inspiring many young students to excel beyond expectations.
The Dragons captain was joined at the function by Annie Ker (CRL) from the Culburra Dolphins who was nominated for the ‘Women in League Achievement’ Award as well as representatives from the Woonona-Bulli Bushrangers who were in contention for the One Community ‘Grassroots Club of the Year’ Award.
NRL Chief Executive Dave Smith said the One Community Awards were the opportunity to celebrate and thank those people who are the heart-and-soul of the game.
“This is our opportunity to acknowledge the countless hours that volunteers, officials, game administrators and elite players dedicate to the game and their communities throughout the year,” said Smith.