Tuggeranong Buffaloes using inaugural junior 9s carnival to help young brain cancer patient

Eighteen months ago when Eli Chatfield's father died of brain cancer, his mum told him and his brother they'd never have to go through anything as awful as that again.

Now Eli's had surgery after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour last month and the "tough little cookie" is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy in Sydney after the cancer spread to his spine.

The 11-year-old's always been a rugby league fan and was playing touch football when news came through he had to rush to hospital.

It's a passion that runs in the family, with his older brother Tremayne playing for the Canberra Raiders SG Ball team in the NSW under-18 competition.

"He's a tough little cookie and he's handling it all very well so far," his mother Sarah Robinson said.

"He was playing footy right up until the weekend before the surgery. We had no idea, no idea whatsoever.


"I actually had to drag him off the touch football field to get him up to the emergency room the night we ended up in Canberra Hospital.

"When [his father died] I even said to my poor children, 'you'll never have to deal with anything as awful as this again. This is the worst thing' — and now we've got this."

But this is where the rugby league community steps in — not only in Canberra, but all the way up to the NSW Blues, with State of Origin star Andrew Fifita visiting Eli in hospital and giving him tickets to Wednesday's second Origin game.

The Tuggeranong Buffaloes have organised a junior nines carnival at Kambah on July 8, which will double as a fundraiser to help Eli cover his medical expenses.

There'll also be a fundraiser at the Bateman's Bay Soldiers Club on July 15.

With Eli's father Harold Chatfield having died, Sarah's had to take leave without pay to look after her son as he continues his treatment and recovery from cancer.

The Buffaloes play in an annual carnival down at Bibbenluke, near Bombala, where they came up against Eli's Batemans Bay Tigers.

His mum's been amazed and ever so grateful to how the rugby league and Batemans Bay communities have rallied to help.

"He's very lucky, he had [Wests Tigers player] David Nofoaluma here and then Andrew Fifita gave him tickets for State of Origin, so he's getting a bit of support from the NRL, they've been fantastic," she said.

"It's just amazing because basically his whole life changed in a split second.

"He went from being this active kid that never stopped — school, footy, footy training, doing things with his friends and now he's sitting around in a hospital in Sydney waiting for the next treatment."

Chris Devoy came up with the idea of the nines carnival, in part to help out Eli, but also to try and re-invogorate rugby league in Canberra's south.

"The way the whole rugby league community's rallied behind him is a real credit ... anyway we can raise money through beanie sales or making people aware of his GoFundMe page I'm happy for people to do," Devoy said.


Saturday: Belconnen United Sharks v Yass Magpies at O'Connor, 2pm. Queanbeyan Kangaroos v Queanbeyan Blues at Freebody Oval, 2pm.

Sunday: Goulburn Workers Bulldogs v West Belconnen Warriors at Goulburn, 2pm. Gungahlin Bulls v Tuggeranong Bushrangers at Gungahlin, 3pm.