By Liam Tapper
As a passionate supporter of junior rugby league, Grahame Wagener is not your average Shark Crew member.
His list of accolades within Rugby League rank above and beyond most others involved within the sport, not just in the Cronulla-Sutherland district but also across Australia.
The current President of the Engadine Dragons Junior Rugby League Club, a position he has held for the past eight years, and with his strong passion for the game and it is no wonder Wagener has achieved the NRL’s highest volunteer honour.
“I was awarded the 2013 NRL Volunteer of the Year which was a really great experience,” said Wagener.
This recognition did not come overnight though.
With 35 years of experience in Rugby League, what started off as a passion has now become a way of life for Wagener.
“It started off watching the young kids in the local football teams go through reps up to grade.
“In the day, Cronulla was basically made up of local juniors, so you saw all the local juniors and you saw them progress through the ranks. So you gradually drifted into being involved with it all,” said Wagener.
Wagener’s involvement in the club has since become invaluable and has lead the way for what many other volunteers are able to achieve.
One the list of achievements is developing the very first special needs team actively playing Rugby League in Sydney.
“I’m also the coach of the special needs team,” he said. “We’ve been going for five years now. We play down here at Remondis Stadium once a year.
“For a while we were the only special needs team actively playing Rugby League, not Oz-Tag or Tag, but now it’s grown to have teams in Penrith, Illawarra, Wentworthville and St Marys. So we’re trying to get a competition going now amongst the kids so it’ll be great if it comes off,” he said.
It is involvement such as this which makes the Sharks Crew a prime asset to the development of the Cronulla Sharks as a whole and Wagener believes the mixture of volunteers and professional workers is crucial.
“One of the best features about being part of the Shark Crew is working with the professional staff to bring about change designed to make the game day experience something for all fans to remember.
“The Shark Crew are also really nice people,” he said.
A keen ukulele player and fisherman, don’t count out Wagener offering lessons on game day. Helping is what he does!
If you’d like to become a member of Shark Crew, head to the link provided and be a part of the team today!