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Wests Tigers are hoping to help more inmates prepare for life beyond their time behind bars, following the success of the club’s first Kick Start program.

Starford To'a, Api Koroisau and Stefano Utoikamanu chat to inmates via zoom
Starford To'a, Api Koroisau and Stefano Utoikamanu chat to inmates via zoom

Api Koroisau was one of six Wests Tigers players who helped deliver the five-week program to fourteen maximum security inmates at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.

Koroisau and his teammates spoke about how they pushed through difficult moments in their own lives, offering advice they’d give to young people tempted by crime.

The inmates who were selected for the Kick Start program took part in intensive therapeutic virtual sessions with players, where they learned – and spoke candidly – about mental health, addiction, victim impact and building positive relationships.

Welcome to Country at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre
Welcome to Country at Mid North Coast Correctional Centre

One inmate said the sessions brought him out of his shell and gave him a more positive outlook.

“We’ve appreciated a space of free speech where we didn’t feel uncomfortable talking about our innermost secrets, our past, family or things we’re scared of or vulnerable to,” one inmate said.

Former Wests Magpies player Jim Murphy
Former Wests Magpies player Jim Murphy

Former NRL player turned Corrective Services NSW industries officer Jim Murphy founded the program, inspired by his love of the sport, and his dedication and passion for his job.

 “Some of the inmates were quite emotional talking about things they’d never spoken about before and the further we got into the program, I’ve never seen fellas become so happy and close,” said Murphy.

Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe believes the Kick Start program has been hugely beneficial to the inmates, and his club.

“I firstly want to give a big thanks to our community and pathways teams, and the players who were involved in this,” said Pascoe.

There is a lot of great work done by our staff and players all year round that may often go unnoticed.

Justin Pascoe

"Much of what we do is not publicised because it is just a part of what we do as a club. Enriching the lives of others in our community is what we are about.

This initiative has been rewarding on so many levels and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

Justin Pascoe

"Our players have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, knowing they’ve had a meaningful and positive connection with several inmates."

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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