JODE Roach has no doubts it will surpass the satisfaction he felt from winning premierships as a player or coach.
Roach, Merewether co-coach Trent Considine and 15 mates, most with ties to the Greens, will leave on Sunday for Papua New Guinea and a 96-kilometre journey along the Kokoda Track.
The group, which ranges in age from 22 to 71, hopes to raise $24,000 split between charities – Beyond Blue, Motor Neurone Disease NSW and Bowel Cancer Australia.
“Now that it’s only a few days away, it’s dawned on us that we are about to walk into the jungle,” Roach said.
“There is nothing else out there. It will be good to be without mobile phones and technology for a few days.
“We sleep in individual tents and have food rations. The track is 96km but you can do anywhere from 130km to 140km with detours to villages and things like that.”
The group is scheduled to finish the trek on April 24 and will attend a special memorial service in Port Moresby on ANZAC Day.
The group has been training for six months, covering trails at Glenrock, Tomaree and the Hawkesbury, and the number has swelled after Roach and business partner and fellow Green Tom Wasley “threw the idea out there”.
“The Kokoda Track is on so many people’s bucket list,” Roach said. “When somebody organises it and says we are doing it the band just gets bigger.”
Wasley’s grandfather served for the Australian Armed Forces in Papua New Guinea and Roach said honouring those who had gone before them was among the varying reasons participants had for undertaking the adventure.
“We have been brought together by a lot of different motives,” Roach said.
“For Tom his grand father fought there, for some it has been a case of getting off the beers, there are father-son combinations, others are on a journey of self discovery.
“For me it is filling the void left by stopping competitive sport. You retire from footy and lose that competitive reason to go to training. This gives you a focus. I’ve lost close to 10kg. On a Saturday morning you are up early going through the bush rather than recovering from the beers you drank on a Friday night.”
The trekkers are also focused on “raising a few bucks” for the three charities. The initial goal was $15,000. The figure has climbed above $22,000 and they are now hoping to raise $24,000.
“The charities involve issues that affect men in the Greens population,” Roach said.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response. Our biggest donation has been from former Hamilton president Brett Sutherland. It shows the strength of the rugby community in the Hunter.”
Merewether beat Wanderers 15-13 in round one, meet premiers Hamilton at Townson Oval on Saturday and have the bye when the trekkers are away.
“It was a relief to start to the season well,” Roach said. “We have worked so hard in the off-season and it was great to get some self belief from the first game.”
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