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   Jul 05

Israel Folau’s new children’s books a winner on and off the field

World-class: Wallabies fullback Israel Folau. Photo: Mark KnowlonIsrael Folau wasn’t much older than the characters in his new series of childrens’ books when he made his NRL debut for the Melbourne Storm in 2007 at the age of 17. In that match against the West Tigers he scored the match-winning try, starting a career that would take him to the pinnacle of two rugby codes with a half-time break in the AFL.
Nanjing Night Net

Izzy Folau Chance of a Lifetime and Izzy Folau Reality Check are the first books in what could be a long-running series about a schoolboy rugby team that must overcome challenges, tough oppositions and each other as they strive for rugby glory.

Daniel and Sione come from very different backgrounds but they both love rugby and when they are picked in the same representative team coached by Folau they all must learn to work together.

Folau worked with children’s author David Harding on the books, saying it was crucial the stories get across the lessons he’s learned from playing sport.

“Growing up, I never imagined my journey would pan out as it has, but the one thing I always knew was that I believed in myself,” Folau says.

“Struggling with confidence and self-doubt are things that everyone goes through, especially kids, but I set goals, worked hard and leant on the people around me.

“There are a lot of messages in my books which I have specifically targeted for children, based on my own experiences growing up: the importance of healthy eating and being active, playing fair, setting goals, working together and anti-bullying.”

Folau jokes that he’ll hand out copies to his Wallaby teammates as the Australian squad goes into camp leading up to the Tri-Series against New Zealand and South Africa, hoping for good reviews.

Folau says the fact the Waratahs and the Brumbies just missed out on the Super Rugby final has given the squad extra impetus.

“While it was disappointing not to go all the way and play in the big game it gave us all time to reflect and regroup and make sure we’re ready as we come together as the Wallabies,” he says.

“I’m quietly confident that we’ll surprise a few people once we get to the important games. With some new faces in the squad, it’s keeping everyone on their toes, it’s exciting and we’re all raring to go.”

Folau said he enjoyed reading as a child growing up in Minto, NSW, but looking back probably didn’t read enough.

“It’s really important for kids to read right through childhood but I know sometimes it’s hard to get them to read,” Folau said.

“The key is finding something that they’re passionate about, and for me it was, and still is rugby, and being healthy and active, and a lot of kids are like that too.

“I wish these books were around when I was a kid, I would have read them for sure.”

As the mother of a rugby-mad reluctant reader I agree. These books have been dealt with quicker than Folau deals with most oppositions. With a chapter in each book containing tips from Folau, there’s plenty to put into practice on and off the field.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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