Many members will remember Velu Nuumaalii. A product of the St. Marys club and a former Penrith junior representative, he worked as a popular Men of League Wellbeing Officer from March 2008 until April 2013.
He had joined our association after suffering an incomplete spinal cord injury while playing with the Panthers in 2006. This neck injury resulted in permanent quadriplegia and forced the personable teenager to re-evaluate his life. Despite his own problems, Velu worked long hours with the Foundation and was constantly looking for ways to provide care and laughter for those in need.
“I really enjoyed my time with the Men of League,” Velu said, “and the many friends I made in this time are still close to me.
“The Foundation provided some much needed care for me and along with the support of my family, helped me to get through a very trying time.
“After my injury I had many personal issues, one of which was gambling as a form of coping strategy to mask my trauma as a rugby league player. But those days are now well behind me.
Now 29, Velu has been working in Alice Springs for nearly three months with a great organisation called Mental Health Association Central Australia (MHACA). His job is to work with and help people with such problems as mental health issues, homelessness, bipolar problems and Schizophrenia disorders. Down the track, Velu plans to return to Sydney and continue working to help the vulnerable and in the sporting community. He is a firm believer that sport helps to connect the community and bring people together. If anyone is struggling with any mental health issues or know someone who is suffering from it, please contact your local mental health facility or Lifeline on 131114.
Velu is also currently helping out the Under 12’s Northern Territory development team, which consist with 14 indigenous kids and 27 in total. “This gives me great joy to give back to the rugby league community and more importantly help these kids love the game that has given me so much,” he explained.
“I am currently organising a rugby league match with St Mary’s JRLFC this year in December during the school holidays to give the 27 players I coach, an opportunity to test themselves and their skills as a team, but more importantly, so that the kids can have an once in a lifetime experience coming to Sydney and playing against one of the biggest local clubs in Rugby League heartland,” Velu concluded.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the trip, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Velu by email – firstname.lastname@example.org or by mobile 0410 022 946.
by Barry Ross