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Grant gives young rugby team the experience of a lifetime.

Local rugby league club Hibiscus Coast Raiders is well-connected to and well-regarded in its Whangaparaoa community.

Since its humble beginnings in 1982, the volunteer-led club now has 12 Junior and 4 Senior grade teams - and has even seen some well-known names play for club over the years.

Earlier this year, the Under 10 Open Team were invited to take part in the annual Kiwi Junior Rugby League Festival competition in Whakatane.

With many of the boys never having left the local area, the opportunity to attend this event was huge.

The club applied to the North Shore Fund for help with the costs of sending the team to the three-day grassroots-sporting showpiece – and were delighted when the application was successful.

Team manager Rachel Anderson says that the trip was an amazing experience for the boys.

"We're a proud, small multicultural team from diverse backgrounds, but with a common love of rugby league."

"The boys turn up to trainings and games every week without fail, and are constantly striving to do their best. This has even extended to their friendships, which provide a safe haven for them not only on the field, but support at school also."

"Our coaches are three wonderful dads from Māori and Māori-Pacific backgrounds who give these boys wonderful positive role models to look up to. One of the coaches goes to pick up some of the boys for trainings and games as otherwise they just wouldn’t get there."

"In September we took the boys on the long drive to Whakatane. For some of these boys, this was the first time they had stayed in a motel, so that in itself was a real treat."

"The weather throughout was wonderful, and the boys played teams from all over New Zealand."

"Providing them with this opportunity was amazing and will be remembered forever! There would be no way this would have been financially possible without this funding, and we are very, very grateful for the opportunity it has provided our boys."

You can watch a Facebook video of the Hibiscus Coast Raiders team at the event here.

Photo supplied by Hibiscus Coast Raiders Rugby League Club.