By Erick Elefante, Date:6/8/2013
When Marlyn Simpson sent the Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL) the latest pictures of the San Narciso Junior Rugby League team training at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) she titled the photos, â€œFirst time to play Rugby League on Grassâ€!
There are many things that Rugby League children and their families take for granted in Australia, France, New Zealand (NZ) and the United Kingdom (UK), playing the â€œGreatest Game of Allâ€ on a grass field is one of many.
Since Tom Simpson and his wife retired to the Philippines last February he has been coaching the children of poor local fishermen on the beaches of La Paz at San Narciso, Zambales. There have been times where it has been so hot that training has had to stop because the children did not have sand shoes and were burning their feet on the hot sand, but they still keep on coming to training.
So last Saturday the 3rd August, PMMA President Admiral Richard U Ritual organized for the Academy bus to pick up the children and their families at La Paz beach for the 5km drive up to the Academy.
The children loved the experience, playing on a grass field for the very first time and told Tom that they wanted to train at the Academy field more often. The children and their parents even volunteered to walk the 5km from La Paz beach to the Academy if the bus was not available. How many children and their parents living in Australia, France, NZ or the UK do you know, who would walk a 10km round trip just to attend a Rugby League training session?
The children were in for more surprise at training, for many got their very first ever Rugby League jersey donated by John Fox of Manly, Australia. The PNRL would like to thank John for his generosity.
Many of the childrenâ€™s parents told Marlyn Simpson a couple of days later that many of their children refused to take their jerseys off, with many sleeping with them on that evening. A very familiar story, many Rugby League families in Australia, France, NZ and the UK could also share.
Ron Washington a former Souths district Rugby League referee is becoming a familiar site to the children as he joined Tom, Harold Aguilo and Edmond Brocoy coach the team at the Academy. Ron is impressed with the childrenâ€™s skills and believes that many would not be a miss playing in the tough South Sydney Juniors Rugby League competition. So sees a bright future for the â€œGreatest Game of Allâ€ in the Philippines.
This bright Rugby League playing future may soon be put to the test. With Jon Hoyle of the Malaysia Rugby League making contact with the PNRL board and Tom Simpson about the possibility of an U12 Junior Rugby League game between Malaysia and the Philippines. This would then cement the town of San Narciso, Zambales place in Philippines and Asian Rugby League history as the site of the first ever International Junior Rugby League game in Asia!
PNRL members living in the Philippines like Tom, Harold and Edmond have been doing their Rugby League development work as volunteers, with no financial support. The PNRL is eager to find financial help to continue their work. So any enquiries and offers of support can be directed to the contact details that is located on the PNRL website www.pnrlf.com