The people of Forbes turned out in great numbers on Tuesday, as the Hogs for the Homeless tour cruised through town. National Rugby League legends Brad Fittler, Nathan Hindmarsh, Steve Roach, Steve Menzies, Matt Cooper, Josh Perry and Brian Fletcher arrived in town in a convoy of Harley Davidson motorbikes.
The Hogs for the Homeless campaign was first organised by Brad Fittler in 2012, after he found out there was 50,000 people in NSW alone living on the streets. The campaign runs for two weeks and raises funds and awareness for Father Chris Riley’s “Youth off the Streets” foundation, which aims to put homeless people back in homes.
The former rugby league players were kept busy in Forbes, running a charity
sheep sale at the livestock exchange in the morning, before running a coaching clinic at Spooner Oval in the afternoon, and finally attending a fundraising dinner function at the Services Club in the evening. Each event was a huge success, with the sheep sale alone raising $11,560. With sheep buyers having the option of donating the sheep back to the sale yards, some sheep were sold multiple times, with one in particular selling a massive 56 times.
Hogs for the Homeless founder Brad Fittler, who played for the Penrith Panthers, Sydney Roosters, Australian Kangaroos and NSW State of Origin sides in his playing days, said the goal of the campaign was to make people aware that not everyone in NSW is fortunate enough to have a roof over their head. “There’s some real issues, and homelessness is one of them,” he said.
“Over 50,000 teenagers in the state are homeless, which is ludicrous,”
“This is about former footballers using their identities and getting out into the bush [so people in rural communities can meet them], and there’s the other side for Chris Riley and what he’s trying to accomplish.” Former Australian, NSW and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles player Josh Perry said it was great to have been able to raise so much money, in particular the result at the
“It’s amazing. We keep coming out to places like this and everyone says the
country is struggling a little bit, but it seems to be thriving, and the great people out here are digging into their pockets every time we see them,” he said.
Mr Perry, who was one of the organisers for this year’s tour, said it was enlightening for him and the other NRL legends to spend time with budding junior footballers, who do not normally get the chance to meet them, in rural communities.
“That’s one of the reasons why we come out. We get to meet the kids, and we get a lot out of that too. We’re lucky to be able to do what we do and we’re doing it every year now.”
Mr Fittler said he hoped more former players would keep joining the tour in the years to come.