March 21, 2008

Tana Umaga - Real Life Hero

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tana Umaga and many of the Vodafone Wellington Lions Rugby team took time out recently to attend a post-training BBQ with local Wellington school children.

The event was a great opportunity for local school boys and girls to watch the Lions players train and to mingle with their sporting heroes afterwards. Local Parliamentarians (and one or two Vodafone staff :-) joined the Lions players as the children gathered autographs and posed for photographs.

Umaga demonstrated again why he is known as one of the great ambassadors of rugby and for New Zealand. His friendly, easy manner and broad smile made it easy for the children and parents to engage with one of the All Black greats.

Last week Tana was on hand again at the Ese Trust lunch to help raise funds for a family struck by two tragic sporting injuries. All credit to organisers, to the sponsors - including Vodafone - and to the Wellington rugby community for arranging this very memorable and successful occasion. Tana and the current and former All Blacks who were well represented at the fundraiser helped make the event as successful as it was. Later the same day Tana took the field to play in his 100th game for the Vodafone Wellington Lions - an amazing achievement in anyone's books.

Kids these days don't seem to have the sorts of real life heroes that used to exist before the days of x-box, paparazzi, doping scandals and so-called reality TV. So it was refreshing to get to meet a leader who has earned the respect of his teamates and the wider community for his real class both on and off the field. This was reflected in the standing ovation from his peers and rugby whanau at the lunch. Farewell Tana. Have a great time in France.

Posted by Roger Ellis at 5:11 PM

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