The Penrith Panthers are the first NRL club to put their hands in their pockets and support drought-stricken farmers in the state’s central west by donating a whopping $200,000 to The Big Dry Drought Appeal.
The incredible donation consists of a $100,000 contribution from Panthers Group and a $100,000 commitment from Panthers Rugby League.
The Big Dry Drought Appeal was launched by Fairfax Media and Macquarie Media in aid of the Buy A Bale program, which provides much-needed supplies and support to farmers affected by the drought.
“Given the gravity of the situation our farmers currently face, we felt compelled to make a contribution,” Panthers Group CEO, Brian Fletcher said.
“Panthers has always shared a strong affiliation with central west NSW, given the significant number of players who have emerged from the region to pull on the Panthers jersey.
“While our donation will make a small difference for the farmers doing it tough, we hope it helps draws attention to the critical need for further assistance.”
One Panthers player who is no stranger to central western NSW is star backrower Isaah Yeo.
The 23-year-old Dubbo product knows first hand just how tough farmers have been doing it in recent months.
“While the drought doesn’t affect me directly, it does affect a lot of my family members,” he told the Weekender.
“I have family members who are solely in the farming business, who are doing it very tough at the moment. They are in the beef industry and have been outlaying a lot of money for feed, but not getting anything in return.”
Yeo often heads out west during his weekends off to visit family and friends. The former Country Origin star said he’s being witnessing the heartache for a while.
“I have noticed it, it’s not very green when you head out there lately. You probably realise it more when you see it first hand,” Yeo said.
“It’s been like that for a while now and it’s only now starting to get the exposure it needs.
“I understand the money will be used for feed and hay bails at the moment, which is very much needed for the livestock farmers out there who are struggling the most. Hopefully this can save some lives, not just the animals’ but people as well.”
Panthers are the first NRL club to give back to farmers since news of the devasting drought became a nation-wide story last month. Yeo challenged other clubs around the league to do their bit too.
“This donation goes a long way to helping you sleep at night and hopefully there’s a few other clubs that can step up and do what we’ve done,” he said.
“I’m certainly proud to be a Panther today, more so than ever.”
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.