Te Puke Sports fundraiser for 'It's Not OK' campaign on Saturday

By Peter White

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COMMUNITY FOCUS: Te Puke Sports Premiers have fun trying on their new jerseys for their charity fundraiser against Te Puna on Saturday. PHOTO/FILE tpRugbyCharity2
COMMUNITY FOCUS: Te Puke Sports Premiers have fun trying on their new jerseys for their charity fundraiser against Te Puna on Saturday. PHOTO/FILE tpRugbyCharity2

Te Puke Sports may not be leading the Baywide Premier 1 division but when it comes to standing up for social issues they are the number one club.

On Saturday their Premier 1 team will run out at home against Te Puna in specially designed, one-off sponsored white jerseys highlighting the "It's Not OK" campaign against domestic violence.

The back of the jersey will carry the anti-violence message "It's Not OK...but it is okay to ask for help".

Last year the club held a successful fundraising day for breast cancer research with the Te Puke team wearing pink jerseys.

Te Puke's co-captains Dan Hollinshead and Aidan Ross, who both hope to be named in the Bay of Plenty Steamers squad, are proud to make a difference with such an important social issue.

"Rugby over the years has had a few stories come out about this sort of thing and rugby being involved in it in a negative way," Hollinshead, 21, said.

"It is good for the club and for the premier side to get behind it and take more of a positive approach, create a bit of awareness and some fundraising for it too.

"It is quite important. I know it will bode well for the club and all our supporters to show how much we care about the community.

"I think we are the only club in the region that does this sort of thing and it does make us proud."

Ross, 20, who played for New Zealand at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy, says the people who run the club deserve credit for organising the awareness and fundraising initiative.

"I have never really been in another team that gets behind this kind of thing," Ross said.

"The players are out there playing the game but it comes back to the club people off the field.

"(Club secretary) Deborah Keenleyside is probably the most important one that runs the ship around us.

"The supporters get behind it too and they deserve just as much praise as us players do.
"There is definitely a lot of support off the field for this sort of campaign as there was last year as well."

Hollinshead and Ross, who are former Tauranga Boys' College First XV team mates, says there is a real buzz in the playing squad ahead of Saturday's match against in-form Te Puna.

Both teams are desperate to nail a semifinal spot in two weeks.

"The boys are really excited not only for the game but the after match, having the clubrooms full and handing over the jerseys to the sponsors that bought them," Hollinshead said.

"We can't wait to get out there and wear that white jersey."

Te Puke Sports versus Te Puna development teams kick off at 12pm with the Premier 1 match at 2.45pm.

There is a $5 gate charge at Murray Salt Stadium in Atuaroa Avenue with proceeds going to the Te Puke branch of the It's Not OK campaign. Supporters are encouraged to dress in black.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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