Jerry's Story

Financial assistance helps Jerry pursue his NRL dream.

Born in Penrith in 2013, Jerry was only three when he and his mother, Hayley, relocated to the NSW south coast after leaving a tumultuous marriage. Jerry watched his mum navigate the family law court system and moved house 15 times as he experienced all the turbulent changes that come with a family separation.

Now incredibly wise beyond his 10 years, Jerry has found freedom, connection and safety amongst the salty waves of Ulladulla and on the home turf of the mighty Milton Ulladulla Bulldogs Junior Rugby League Club where he wears his red, blue and white jersey with pride.

Jerry began his rugby league career as 4-year-old ferocious front rower for Emu Plains Junior Rugby League Club. When they moved to the NSW south coast, Hayley registered him with the local Bulldogs team, and he’s been playing for them for three seasons now.

“Rugby league is a driving force for Jerry and he really is a powerhouse on the footy field. Every child needs a space to thrive and to excel, whether its sport or art or music, those things are so significant, especially for kids like Jerry who have experienced significant adversity,” said Hayley.

“Jerry trains up to three times a week for up to five hours. He rides his bike every day and puts a lot of effort into keeping fit and healthy and watching his nutrition.”

“This season Jerry was promoted to centre due to his increased speed and agility to work the field. His stellar move is the “palm” where he hugs the ball in one hand and uses the other hand to palm off his opposition.”

Jerry adds his palm is like a special armour of protection to safeguard the football like a pot of gold.

“My Grandfather – “Da” – always told me to look at the footy like gold and never lose sight of protecting it,” said Jerry.

This season Jerry has been fortunate to captain his Under 10s side and lead his team mates on and off the field.

“As a proud First Nations young man (Wiradjuri/Dharawal Nations) it’s been awesome to promote my culture through my footy. I play with a few Koori boys in Ulladulla and for NAIDOC round this year we had some of the boys playing the Didge and we all paid our respects to our elders,” said Jerry.

Despite beginning his career as a Penrith junior and having a Great Grandfather, Joe Bassett, who played first grade NRL for the Canterbury Bulldogs, there is only one team and one player that Jerry hopes to emulate.

“Jerry barracks for the South Sydney Rabbitohs with aspirations to be as swift and as staunch as Latrell Mitchell,” said Hayley.

“He loves Latrell’s style and the passion and advocacy he has for community and mob off the field. It’s the influence and guidance of players like Latrell, that canvas to younger generations that it doesn’t matter where you come from, or what obstacles you overcome – you must always give back and remember your roots.”

With Jerry’s team selected to compete in The Final Whistle (TFW) Rugby League 9s Tournament in Lake Illawarra in October, Hayley says Jerry’s Variety Heart Scholarship could not have come at a better time.

“There is an admission fee for the tournament and a representative uniform to pay for. We are also exploring NRL clinics for 2024 to set him up with a platform of success moving forward,” said Hayley.

“It’s very difficult to provide for a child on a single income, let alone a minimum wage. We are so grateful to Variety for offering Jerry an opportunity to engage in the kind of professional training he needs to take his footy further and to move one step closer to his goal of being awarded a rugby league scholarship for his secondary education and pursuing a professional career in rugby league.”

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Variety believes all kids deserve a fair go. We help kids 0 – 18 years of age who are living with sickness, disadvantage or have special needs.