Wests Tigers Head Coach Michael Maguire experienced a once in a life time experience when he joined Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion, visiting Zimbabwe in October 2017.
Caritas Australia is part of one of the largest international aid and development agencies in the world and works to empower vulnerable communities in 27 countries globally. Maguire first became involved with the organisation during his time away from the game, and spoke openly about how his experience with the charity has impacted his perspective and attitude to coaching in the NRL.
“I was very fortunate in my break away from coaching, I spent a bit of time over in Zimbabwe," Maguire reflected. "Caritas asked me to join them to travel to Zimbabwe, going around village to village. We drove around for some time — you’d go into villages where there was nothing, no water, no food, basically just living with a lot of hope. I couldn’t believe how far a dollar can take so many people over there.
“They’ve got to walk for 4-5 kilometres just to get a bucket of water and take that back to the family. They use that for their washing, to drink and sometimes along the way they probably drop it. Or, if not, sometimes the families lose some of their kids because the nature of where they live: lions, tigers and crocodiles.
"I saw people in hospitals that were waiting to pass due to the fact of the disease they have. They don’t have the medication or the ability to get to hospitals.
"I learnt a lot whilst over there," he said. "It was good to see where the money goes when you’re giving it to these organisations and how it goes such a long way. I was able to get to some of the villages and it made me really appreciate what we have."
Following a tumultuous off-season for the game of rugby league, Maguire was quick to emphasise the important work that so many rugby league players do, with particular focus on the Wests Tigers values of community and charity involvement.
“Players go out to hospitals weekly, seeing young kids or older fans and it puts a smile on their face which gives hope," Maguire said. "So many of our players are involved with charities and are ambassadors for some sort of charity.
- Luke Brooks — Men of League
- Moses Mbye — Save Our Sons and Be All In
- Robbie Farah — Mates on a Mission
- Benji Marshall — Save Our Sons
- Josh Aloiai — Feel the Magic
- Luke Garner — Solider On
- Russell Packer — Aspect
- Chris Lawrence — Beyond Blue
- Ryan Matterson — Voice against Violence against Women
- Josh Reynolds — Save our Sons and Camp Quality
"We’ve got to start talking about the great things our players are doing because we’ve got a great game," Maguire continued. "That's the reason why I wanted to make sure I found a good friend in Super to come over [from Zimbabwe] and talk to our players today to get a real appreciation for what we do and how good it is."
We’ve got to start talking about the great things our players are doing because we’ve got a great game.Michael Maguire
Maguire met Super Dube during his trip to Zimbabwe in October 2017. Dube works for Caritas in Zimbabwe and is now visiting schools and communities across Australia to educate on the need for access to clean water in the lead up to World Water Day on March 22.
Introducing Dube to the team at training put into perspective the importance and impact of giving back to the wider community.
“The fact someone like Super can come in and talk about his environment when they don’t have houses and live under trees is powerful," Maguire said.
"I walked into a village and basically people were there waiting to find their next little drink or possibly pass. When you’re hearing about these sorts of things you have to look around and appreciate what you’ve got."
“I’ve been fortunate to spend a bit of time with this organisation now and I'm willing to give because they know it’s going to help someone," he continued.
"I can assure you the money that is raised is sent to some great places."
For more information, visit https://www.caritas.org.au