LOCAL businessman Marty Clapps has come to the rescue of the Bundjalung Warriors, buying their guernseys and underwriting the cost of their accommodation to participate in the annual NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout competition, being held at Raymond Terrace near Newcastle.
The Bundjalung Warriors squad is made up of 26 indigenous players from Tweed to Grafton. The knockout competition is the biggest indigenous sporting competition in the state and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Bundjalung Warriors manager and president Steve Roberts said they missed a deadline for a grant application that would have assisted with travel and accommodation costs and by the time they got around to booking, they found everything at Raymond Terrace and Newcastle was already fully booked.
Mr Roberts said they found something at a resort at nearby Nelson Bay, but the cost of accommodating all their players, support staff and some family members came to about $9000.
The Knockout competition is being held from September 28 - October 1, which didn't give them much time to organise fundraising activities.
But that's where Marty Clapps has come in to save the day.
Mr Clapps bought the Lismore car yard Auto Top Trade in July and through an employee, David Saunders, he has been connected to the Aboriginal community and the Bundjalung Warriors.
"I believe every person needs an opportunity, whether that's through football or whatever path they take," he said.
"This is a great opportunity for those kids to get recognised and find some pathways to success.
"And if they win, the competition comes back to Lismore next year which is good for me and good for the whole town."
Mr Clapps said he was involved with fundraising for sporting teams in Sydney and hoped to get involved in "setting something up for next year" so that the team doesn't find themselves in the same situation again.
Steve Roberts told The Echo that without the support from Auto Top Trade they'd be "going nowhere".
"Marty's the biggest help we've ever had in Lismore. I want to thank him very much for what he's done," he said.
The Bundjalung Warriors are still looking for additional sponsorship to help cover transport costs and some additional accommodation.
If anyone is in a position to help them Steve Roberts can be contacted on 0434 013 469.