When Queensland Rugby League club support manager Kerri Ritchie needed some help to lift the spirits of Townsville’s junior players during the early days of the COVID-19 shutdown, she didn’t hesitate to ask North Queensland Cowboys star Kyle Feldt to lend a hand.
A popular player up north, Feldt jumped on board straight away and it’s this ‘can-do’ and 'anything to help' attitude which has seen him be named as his club’s Ken Stephen Medal nominee.
“It was during the COVID lockdown period and we wanted to keep the kids still engaged in rugby league; so I asked Kyle if he could think of some kind of footy challenge that I could promote on the junior league Facebook page, as we know how much kids look up to Kyle, he’s a local NQ hero,” Ritchie said.
“He was more than happy to help and came up with the idea of a footy throw challenge.
“Kyle then sent me the video of him throwing the ball into the bin and encouraged the kids to keep active and healthy.
“I put it up on the junior league's Facebook page and asked kids to send in their videos.
“I received videos from all over and they all really loved seeing themselves on Facebook.
“The feedback was fantastic, I received so many messages saying how great it was to have Kyle do the this and it made the kids want to get outside for some fun, trying to get the ball into the bin, which was exactly why we did it.
“I sent all of the video compilations to Kyle and he said he loved seeing them and was glad to be a part of it all.”
The 'Kyle Feldt Footy Bin Throw Challenge' was just one of the community activities the Queensland Maroons 2020 squad member has been involved in this year to help earn him the Ken Stephen Medal nomination.
As well as checking in regularly with students from Good Shepherd Catholic School via video chats and reaching out to provide encouragement to rugby league fans who have fallen on hard times; Feldt was also a key supporter of a campaign to get more volunteers in the game.
“Kyle is always willing to help when I’ve asked,” Ritchie said.
“We also did a promotion video for volunteering and he did a clip for me for that; which is part of a volunteers North Queensland campaign.”
While Feldt is the Ken Stephen Medal nominee for the Cowboys, the other NRL clubs also have nominees to represent them in this category in the NRL Kayo Community Awards.
Other Queensland Maroons eligible players who are candidates for this year's prestigious honour are outlined below. Nomination profiles provided by NRL.
Ronaldo Mulitalo – Cronulla Sharks
Even before being a contracted player, Mulitalo was a regular at Sharks community events and initiatives.
At one of his first school visits, the winger made sure he spent time with an autistic student - giving him the polo off his own back after seeing him distressed at missing out on gear.
Mulitalo has been a leader for community appearances, taking time in the off-season to travel to Papua New Guinea to assist in building a community hall and install a rainwater collection system.
He also championed the Give 5, Get 5 campaign to help transform the lives of Sydney's homeless youth.
Reed Mahoney – Parramatta Eels
Always among the first players to volunteer and partake in any club community events, Mahoney has been heavily involved with initiatives like the Eels Community School Blitz, the bushfire appeal in Bega and Ronald McDonald House and Westmead Children’s Hospital visits.
Becoming an ambassador for Giant Steps during his time in the under 20s squad, the hooker worked as a teacher's aide before signing full-time with the Eels. He continues to use social media to encourage donations and contributes his own donations and experience to various events to increase the money raised.
Dale Copley – Gold Coast Titans
Copley has been the perfect role model for younger Titans players, juggling the demands of completing a Bachelor of Law at QUT, his NRL commitments, active RLPA membership and ambassador roles for the NRL State of Mind and Voice Against Violence programs along with becoming a proud father in 2019.
Copley is never one to turn down a player request, even if it means travelling two-plus hours to attend an appearance on a weekend. Copley recently presented a Wellbeing and Education workshop to Titans, Burleigh Bears and Tweed Seagulls under 18 players on how to represent your personal and club brand in the community.
Voting is now open
A panel featuring inaugural 1988 Ken Stephen Medallist and ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce will decide three finalists, with fans to determine the through an NRL.com poll.
Voting is open until Sunday, September 20.
The finalists for the Ken Stephen Medal, proudly brought to you by My Property Consultants, will be announced as part of the Telstra Premiership finals series.
The winner will be revealed on grand final day along with the Veronica White Medal (NRLW) recipient.