John Hopoate tells of lessons learned
For immediate release 15 November, 2010
Former All Blacks legend, Sid Going, mentors Rugby League players
>From sinner to saint, John Hopoate tells of lessons learned
In a week when yet another NRL player has hit the headlines for serious misbehaviour, up-and-coming Rugby League players gathered yesterday to hear words of wisdom from legends of two of Australasia’s major football codes. The aspiring players were from under-20s teams of major clubs.
The greatest-ever running halfback of New Zealand’s All Blacks, Sid Going, along with former Australian Rugby League great, John Hopoate, shared advice, gained from years of representative football, with five players slated for starring roles in the NRL First Grade competition.
The players met at Olympic Park as part of the NSW Rugby League Pacific program. After viewing news footage and clippings of the former days of Going and Hopoate, the young men were urged by them to give total commitment to the game but still keep their personal standards high.
Along with Going and Hopoate, the up-and-coming football stars are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These young men are eager to join Israel Folau and other Mormons (the nickname for members of the Church) already playing in the First Grade competition.
The luncheon was held to help the future stars avoid the serious indiscretions that have derailed the careers and personal lives of a number of current players. Headlines in the media in recent years have worried the NRL, as well as organisations such as the Mormons who have a great interest in the players not being affected by the hard-living lifestyle of many players. In the long-run, the Church believes that a clean lifestyle amongst players will make the game significantly better than it presently is.
Going told the players that the important things are not material possessions. “The most important step right now is for you to surround yourself with good friends who will not influence you away from your standards and family values,” he said. He also reminded them that they are never alone. “Have no fear, keep your faith, be strong, be smart and know that kids everywhere are watching your every move.”
Hopoate told of his years in the media spotlight, including a period when he made “serious errors”, and advised the players to remember who they were and who they represented. “We all should learn from the lessons of others and hopefully you will learn from my mistakes as well as the good things I did for the game.”
The young players told of the responsibility they felt to support their families and their desire to make them happy. They reflected on what would make their dads give them the “biggest smile”, football success or upholding their personal standards, concluding it was very much the latter.
After the event, David Lakisa, Pacific Communities Project Officer with the NSW Rugby League, who supports the Polynesian players, said the players’ family and ethnic culture can benefit the community. “It is good for everybody to see the support they receive from their families and the respect they personally show for their parents.”