A surprise visit from the Canberra Raiders under-20s has helped boost the launch of the Disability Trust's new rugby league program Score Raiders.
The program provides people with disabilities an opportunity to participate in a weekly training session where they can showcase and learn the skills of rugby league.
Sport and recreation services manager Michael Norris said the Disability Trust were fortunate to have the Jersey Flegg Cup players help facilitate the inaugural session on Monday as the participants were all passionate Raiders fans.
"People with disabilities love their sport and are huge fans of rugby league," Norris said.
"We're trying to implement a program where they're able to transfer that love of the game and learn the skills associated with how to play the game in terms of their idols who play on a weekly basis in the NRL."
Although the Raiders were meant to lead kicking and passing drills for the first half-an-hour, they stayed for the entire 90 minutes to play a game of touch football at the end.
The Raiders have agreed to help deliver the ongoing program once a fortnight after the success of the opening session. Norris, who had nothing but praise for the juniors, said the franchise see the program as a great medium for their players to serve the community.
"Sport is a great way in terms of bringing everyone together breaking down barriers," Norris said.
"The interaction between our participants and the players from the Raiders seemed really seamless. I think they're fantastic role models not only for their club but for the wider community. They were responsible in such a positive way.
"It showcases how important and how easy it is for everyone to work together for a common goal and the passion for everyone involved in rugby league shone on the day."
The program emulates the same model that was established in the Illawarra called the Score Dragons which won the NRL Community Award in 2016. While only 10 participants have registered for Canberra's inaugural program so far, Norris hopes the Score Raiders will grow large enough to be a part of the local junior competition and play weekly games against mainstream teams.
"We're trying to break down those barriers to make a prevalence that's really inclusive here in the Canberra region and enable the participants to feel and be a part of their community," Norris said.
"We want a team that can participate in the local junior competition so the participants have the opportunity to experience what it's like to play on a weekly basis and play the game they love in a more supported structure and setting."
The Disability Trust have launched a range of active programs in the region alongside the Score Raiders, including Star Dancers, Altogether Drama, and Tennis Queanbeyan and ACT.