The following article is from the New Zealand Herald.
Written by James Ihaka.
Click here to see the original article.
A team of budding rugby players from a decile 1 Auckland school literally have big shoes to fill after their heroes - the Blues rugby team - donated them their boots and gear.
The Tamaki College 2nd XV is now 18 pairs of new and near-new rugby boots better off after Blues players stepped in to help.
The boys' coach, Jamie Hodgetts, who got involved last year after being told the school needed a few more helpers, is among a group of people being recognised in the Herald's Unsung Heroes series for their voluntary work in the community. Five nominees will be chosen to go on a P&O cruise.
The 29-year-old marketing manager does everything from getting the boys to and from games, organising sponsorship and providing counsel to making sure his team from the Glen Innes school have all they need - including boots.
Blues communications manager Jo Coleman told the Weekend Herald she was touched by Mr Hodgetts' story and his efforts to help those in need.
She received a phone call from Mr Hodgetts' girlfriend, who asked her about the possibility of the team donating some of their gear to help the youngsters.
"It was the end of the season and good timing and we thought, 'Here's a guy who has stepped up and has done something good for the community, and what a good way to add on that'."
After discussions with team management and the players themselves, she got back to Mr Hodgetts' girlfriend and said: "I just hope you have boys with big feet in your team."
All Blacks Keven Mealamu and Jerome Kaino and teammates Joe Rokocoko, Charlie Faumuina and Peter Saili were on hand to donate their gear at Unitec yesterday to two boys from the team.
"They were a bit shy and quiet but we are happy the boots and gear have gone to young boys who trulyneed them," said Ms Coleman.
The kind gesture has sparked a new tradition with the Blues, who will now nominate a team or club to donate their boots and gear to at the end of each Super rugby season.
Mr Hodgetts said his young charges were in awe of the Blues players. "They were pretty rapt to see Joe Rokocoko, and when Keven Mealamu came in they were like, 'It's Keven Mealamu', and there were big handshakes."
He said the boys couldn't wait to show off their heroes' boots to their mates.
"It's quite scary the majority of these kids will fit these boots. I mean, one of the kids I coached was 14 and had size-15 feet! If they can't fit them they will go to the boys in the 1st XV or we will just give them to the school."