Dean Widders has always known the Men of League Foundation is something special.
An army of like-minded individuals who love nothing more than their footy and coming together to “help out a mate when things get tough”.
“It’s the backbone of rugby league and what makes the game so good,” Widders said.
“As someone who made it in the sport, I know that the volunteers at every club and all the selfless acts that they do are what brings success.
“That attitude of helping out a mate when things get tough, that’s what it’s all about.”
Having grown up in Armidale idolising the footy players at his local clubs, Widders was scouted by Sydney Roosters legend Arty Beetson and moved to Bondi as a teenager where he begun a career that would also have stops in Parramatta and Redfern.
And while the former second rower has watched Men of League grow from the outside, he knows firsthand the impact that the Foundation’s Wellbeing Officers, alongside the many loyal and caring volunteers, have.
Dean’s uncle, Bill – a talented, craft half-back in his day – recently passed away from cancer after battling valiantly with the support of his family and the Foundation.
“They [the Foundation] went above and beyond for him,” Widders said.
“It’s obviously fantastic to get the support because being on the road all the time the travel, the accommodation and medical bills all take their toll.
“But then there’s also the compassion – so many people within the Foundation perform outside their role.”
Now Dean is getting behind the Foundation himself, coming on board as an ambassador in the hope of increasing awareness of the work Men of League do in the rugby league community.
“I’m excited to get more involved in the fundraising and events and just lend a hand and do my bit for the Foundation,” Widders said.