More than 300 kids have enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime, getting coached by their Panthers heroes as part of the Play Like a Panther Clinic at the Panthers Academy.
The clinic for local under-10s was a roaring success, putting smiles on the faces of not only the juniors, but also the Panthers training them.
For local juniors like Mitch Kenny, getting to give back to the community in such a way took on an extra layer of significance.
“It’s awesome to be able to do this,” Kenny said.
“Particularly because a lot of us in this squad were local juniors and we spent a lot of time in the junior system here at Penrith.
“I was a Windsor Wolves junior like a lot of these boys, so I remember how much it meant to me, getting the opportunity to meet some of my heroes and do stuff like that.
“I was wearing those colours a few years back and getting to meet the first grade players was a special thing. Now to be in the position to know what it means for these kids and be able to meet them, sign things for them, play a few games with them, it's a pretty cool thing to do.”
It was a similar sentiment shared by St Marys junior Moses Leota.
“It’s beautiful seeing all the kids run around and be a part of that,” he said.
I’ve been to clinics before where I’ve looked up to players and to be in a position to give signatures, it’s a good feeling.Moses Leota
For Luke Garner, opportunities to give back to the community are a perfect way to thank the fans.
“The whole town embraces the club and embraces the players,” he said.
“Feeling the love from everyone throughout the community, whether it's people at cafes, restaurants, or people like the kids and the parents that are here today.”
Dylan Edwards echoed Garner’s thoughts, adding, “Anytime we get an opportunity to give back to our community and see a bunch of kids, a lot of them wearing Panthers colours, who play in the area, it’s a special thing to do.”
The event also took on extra meaning to Edwards, whose North Coast upbringing meant he rarely got a chance to meet players that the local kids get.
“I grew up in the country where we didn't see too many football players rolling around. So to be able to see so many kids and be able to sign an autograph or make their day is very special.
“It’s a massive part of our club and something I appreciate.”