‘You can take on the world’: League rep sets up youth mentorship
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
National rugby league representative and family man Daley Manu is hanging up his rugby boots to strap boxing gloves on rangatahi so they can take on the world.
Manu is in the early stages of setting up his own personal mentorship program, with the discipline of boxing training at the centre of the project.
“I’ve got the knowledge, and it’s a slap in the face to the people who gave me the knowledge if I don’t hand it down or if I don’t use it for good.”
The father of one was born and raised in Tokoroa and has lived with cerebral palsy spastic diplegia from a young age.
Spastic diplegia mainly affects the legs and occasionally the arms.
Manu had restricted growth and mobility in his leg muscles which affects his lower body endurance and strength.
However, Manu can counteract this by working out, stretching and being as active as possible.
Nothing could stop Manu from living out his sporting dreams and representing New Zealand at the Physically Disabled Rugby League World Cup in 2022.
Manu made history by scoring the first try in the inaugural tournament.
“It was pretty surreal, it felt good too because everyone was talking it up like, you know, we got this opportunity to etch our name in history … I took the opportunity and I got the meat pie (try).”
Manu has now moved on from rugby league to turn his attention to mentoring young men.
He visited a youth correctional facility in Rotorua to mentor rangatahi (youth) using his artwork and sports training knowledge to help inspire.
“I really liked it and I got a lot of good feedback.
“So I wanted to establish myself where I am working with local kids, predominantly males, because I want to break cycles outside of my own home as well.
“If you don’t have a dad at home, it doesn’t mean you have the excuse to not be a good dad when your time comes.
“I wanna let these kids know that you can take on the world, man.”
Manu is a teacher aide at David Henry Primary School in the morning, before coming home and working on his graphic design and clothing business, before coaching boxing at night.
Manu is also involved in running non-profit organisation Reach Your Potential Movement (RYPM).
RYPM circulates sporting gear throughout communities to ensure kids don’t lose their love or give up on their dreams of playing sports.
He combines all of his ventures to strengthen his ability to mentor the next generation.
“I’ve been given the all-go to take them (youth) to our local gym where I box and train boxing and we’re gonna establish the mentorship down there.
“So we take them out of school and we can teach them values … mentoring them there away from school and taking them back and then they can become the next leaders.”
Manu credits boxing as his first love and the inspiration for who he is today.
“It’s all done a full circle because boxing is what I wanted to do, and that’s what got me on this journey to try something and that’s what got me to rugby league and rugby league, got me to the (youth) prison and the prison got me to mentoring and the RYPM all happened at the same time in the middle in one story.
“And I’m using stuff from league fitness to train these boxers and I’m using stuff from RYPM to hand down boxing wraps and boxing gloves to the next kids.
“Everything is just coming together very nicely.”
Manu credits his son for inspiring him to break the boundaries that could typically surround those who have a disability.
“I just try to give this thing a go to show my son that if dad can give things a go, you can too when you get older.”
Hero image: Daley Manu, training at Gym 56, Tokoroa. Photo / Supplied