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'Heartfelt Moment' gives student a special work experience

Passionate Sharks fan and local Year 10 student Mitchell Albert enjoyed an unforgettable two days of work experience this week upon being welcomed into the club's inner sanctum.

The 16-year-old, who attends De La Salle Catholic College Caringbah and lives with muscular dystrophy, was given a special insight into all aspects of the football department on Monday and Tuesday.

This was the latest 'Heartfelt Moment' arranged by Sharks Have Heart, with these regular initiatives designed to uplift members, supporters and those within the community who are facing adversity.

Shown around by NRLW player and Sharks Have Heart equal access program lead Emma Tonegato, Mitchell oversaw the NRL squad's field, gym and wrestling sessions, joined in a post-training talk, attended a staff meeting and picked the brains of coach Craig Fitzgibbon and general manager of football Darren Mooney.

A diligent student who excels with numbers, Mitchell also helped sort GPS data related to load management, learnt how the drone works, reviewed training footage and met the club's pathways staff to get a feel for their responsibilities.

Asked what he liked the most, Mitchell said: "Watching the training."

While his favourite player Ronaldo Mulitalo was on leave, Mitchell had a hat signed by most of the top squad and said prop Toby Rudolf was particularly nice.

Taryn Gooch, learning support officer at De La Salle College Caringbah, accompanied Mitchell to PointsBet Stadium and couldn't speak highly enough of the experience.

"It's been incredible. Everyone is so warm and you can tell it's a really good culture and a family environment," Mrs Gooch said.

"I've been with Mitchell for 18 months now. I am one on one with him in class, mainly physical help. He's extremely intelligent and I pretty much get to hang out with him all day. I call him my boss. He's a fantastic kid; wicked sense of humour.

"I know this has made him happy. The (NRL) boys have been so nice, going out of their way to come and say hi which is great. It's been extremely inclusive. We're incredibly grateful - it's such a nice community and we're proud to be part of it."

For Tonegato, facilitating Heartfelt Moments is a highlight of her role.

"It's awesome that we can offer opportunities like this, make our game more accessible and give students like Mitch an opportunity of a lifetime to come down and be part of our team for a few days," Tonegato said.

Sharks community coordinator Emily Araullo added: "Inclusivity is one of the pillars of our club, with the Sharks committed to ensuring rugby league is a game for all."

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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