Clontarf Foundation: Ex-Blues enforcer Tom Learoyd-Lahrs co-founder of Clontarf Rugby League Carnival in Tamworth

BUILDING BLOCK: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs with participants of the annual Clontarf Rugby League Carnival in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin
BUILDING BLOCK: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs with participants of the annual Clontarf Rugby League Carnival in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin

The transition from elite professional athlete to civilian can be traumatic for sportspeople, the buzz to the comparable boredom difficult to handle.

Finding an activity to help fill the massive void left by retirement is advisable.

For former Australia, Blues and Raiders blunt instrument Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, diving head first into his work with the Clontarf Foundation, and helping to launch the Tamworth-based Clontarf Rugby League Carnival, has aided him in his transition since his 2015 retirement.

The Western Australia-based national organisation employs a multi-faceted approach to giving Indigenous males a leg-up in life.

The three-day carnival started on Wednesday. It has lured “about nine” under-14 and under-15 teams from Clontarf academies around the state, particularly northern NSW, with matches played at Farrer on Thursday. The final is at Scully Park on Thursday night.

Other activities are held at various venues on the other two days.

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It’s the carnival’s second year, after starting with “about seven” teams last year. Tamworth-based Learoyd-Lahrs is excited about the event’s immediate growth spurt and its potential going forward.

He said the carnival was an incentive-based happening to celebrate the efforts of students with a school attendance of at least 85 per cent, no unresolved assessments and a good school behavioural record.

He said the carnival was a “great advertisement” for boys who had overcome significant hurdles in everyday life. “A few of us put our heads together,” he added. “We just decided it would be a good advertisement for rugby league in the town, especially Indigenous rugby league.”

It was also a good incentive for youths, he said, adding: “Obviously, we’re an engagement program, so you’ve got to have different things on the calendar throughout the year that are gonna engage the boys – give them something to look forward to and give them something to aspire to.”

The former Indigenous All Star and NSW Country rep works with North Tamworth centre Tristram Morris at the foundation.

The round games at Farrer are from 8.30am to 3.30pm, and the Scully Park final starts at 5.50pm.


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