A rugby ball signed first by Mose Masoe in Hull is travelling around the globe – picking up the signatures of all NRL and Super League club captains – before being returned into the Samoan’s hands.
Having made its way around the whole of Super League throughout June, the Hull derby on July 1 will be the final destination, as Masoe delivers the ball to former club Hull KR ahead of their derby clash with Hull FC.
Organised by the Mose Masoe Foundation, the ball has been in Australia for some weeks and is now heading back to England, where it will be walked between Super League grounds, collecting all club captain signatures required to create the ultimate piece of modern-day rugby league memorabilia.
Fans will be able donate to support the ball on its journey and importantly show their support for Masoe and his family, whose lives were forever changed when he suffered a C4/C5 incomplete spinal cord injury last January which led to him being diagnosed tetraplegic.
The foundation’s stated aim between now and July 1 is to secure 24,353 donations – one for each mile the ball will have travelled to return it into his hands.
People can donate any amount through the Foundation’s Go Fund Me page at www.mosemasoefoundation.co.uk, or make a donation between £5 and £20 via text.
The ball initially travelled from Hull to Auckland, and following a period in isolation has been passed to Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, Gold Coast Brisbane and Townsville, collecting signatures before being flown back to the UK.
It will start the second stage of its journey to collect the signatures of all Super League captains, beginning at St Helens on June 17 where it will be signed by the captains of the Saints and the Warrington Wolves ahead of their televised Super League clash, live on Sky Sports.
It will then head to Wigan on the same night and be signed the next morning before being walked to Leigh and then Salford on June 18. The ball will head to Huddersfield on the 19th, reaching Leeds and Wakefield on the 20th. It will reach Castleford on the 21st and Hull on the 22nd, before being stored safely away and handed to back to Masoe on July 1 when the Robins face Hull FC.
The ball will eventually be auctioned off as the ‘ultimate piece of modern-day rugby league memorabilia’.
‘Time to Walk and Talk’
The UK stretch of the journey is being entitled ‘It’s Time to Walk and Talk’, highlighting how opening up and talking about the impact of life-changing injuries can be just as important as learning to walk again.
Fans will be encouraged to join parts of the UK stage at the various stages of the journey as the ball is carried from Lancashire to East Yorkshire.
Tony Smith, a trustee of the Foundation and Masoe’s coach at Hull KR when he suffered his injury, says he hopes the event will raise awareness as well as vital funds.
“This will be a really significant event as what we are looking to achieve, beyond the fundraising element, is for people who suffer life-changing injuries to feel more able to open up and talk when they need support,” he said.
“In Mose’s own case, his first steps were widely celebrated and his smile suggested he was doing well, and it was only a year after his accident that he opened up about the dark days he suffered mentally, and admitted the level of support he required. That is what led to the Foundation being formed.
“Mose has proved an inspiration to everybody, as was seen by how he was supported earlier in the year and through the support we are getting in doing this now. Hopefully, this event will encourage more people to talk and get the support they need when they read about all of our reasons for doing this.
“We’ll hopefully also raise a lot of money for the Foundation to support players in the future not only in their physical recovery from serious spinal injuries, but also in helping them to address the mental impact when told they are unlikely to ever be the same person again.”
Masoe expecting ’emotional’ evening
Following his C4/C5 incomplete spinal cord injury, Masoe, 32, can still walk only a few unaided steps and any brief activity leaves him shattered. He still has no sensation or dexterity in his hands.
One of the worst forms of paralysis, it leaves people with partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso, and while some people experience improvements in symptoms, and others may regain partial or complete control over the affected areas with time, there is currently no way to reverse the damage done.
Masoe’s partner Carrisa has had to become his full-time carer alongside looking after their three young children, providing daily assistance with tasks such as personal hygiene and going to the toilet, as his and bladder and bowels do not function naturally.
Masoe said: “I’m really overwhelmed by the thought and effort which has been put in on both sides of the world to make this happen. To have the support once again of all the NRL and Super League clubs, their players and supporters is truly overwhelming.
“It will be so emotional to be handed the ball ahead of the derby game between Hull KR and Hull FC, knowing the effort that has been made to take it around the world collecting signatures.
“Then to walk out onto the field, in front of the fans, will be truly amazing. I have had amazing support from around the world, but the people in the city of Hull especially have shown me so much support and love it will be amazing, and of course extra special with the fans back in the stands.”
The UK journey dates are as follows;
- 2.30pm – Depart for St Helens
- 7pm – Ball signed by skippers of St Helens and Warrington Wolves
- 7.45pm – Depart to Wigan
- 10.15pm – Arrive at Wigan
- Overnight stop
- 9am – Ball signed by Wigan Warriors skipper
- 10am – Depart Wigan for Leigh
- Midday – Arrive at Leigh for ball signing
- 1pm – Depart Leigh for Salford
- 4.30pm – Arrive at Salford for ball signing
- Overnight stop
- 7am – Depart Salford to Huddersfield
- 5pm – Arrive at Huddersfield for ball signing
- Overnight stop
- 8am – Depart Huddersfield to Leeds
- 2pm – Arrive at Leeds for ball signing
- 3pm – Depart Leeds to Wakefield
- 6pm – Arrive at Wakefield for ball signing
- Overnight stop
- 9am – Depart Wakefield to Castleford
- 11.30am – Arrive at Castleford for ball signing
- 12.30pm – Depart Castleford to Goole
- 6pm – Arrive at Goole
- Overnight stop
- 7am – Depart Goole to Hull FC
- 5pm – Arrive at Hull FC
- 6.40pm – Depart Hull FC
- 7.40pm – Ball guard at Hull KR v Hull FC. Ball carried onto pitch by Masoe to be signed by both skippers.
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