Bruce Binge loved his rugby league.
The 32-year-old spent much of his life playing the sport locally before he died by suicide late last year.
To honour his legacy, love of sport and to bring awareness to mental health, his family gathered together and formed a team to take on the Border Knockout in Goondiwindi on February 17.
The Bruce Binge Memorial Team will don the colours of Binge’s favourite NRL team – the Brisbane Broncos – as well as the symbol for suicide prevention agency R U OK? for the competition.
“Bruce loved his football so we thought it would be a good idea to put the R U OK? on the jerseys and put it out there for everyone to see that it is okay to talk out about your depression and whatever is bothering you,” Binge’s sister Sylvia Swan said.
“A lot of the blokes' mentality is 'I take my frustration out on the field' and they think that is how they deal with their emotions and their problems. I heard it from my brother and I hear it from my husband as well.
“It is to honour Bruce as well and keep his name alive.”
Local artist Rod McIntosh designed an artwork titled ‘Bruce’s Journey’ for the jerseys which represents Bruce’s life and what he believed in.
Every player in the team is connected to Bruce in one way or another, whether they are a relative or played with or against him and the side will be coached by Moree Boomerangs’ Chris Binge.
Sylvia’s husband Geoff Swan is part of the team and said players will be coming from all over the state to be part of the side.
“The team is made up of everyone that has a link to Bruce in some way - either family or played with Bruce previously,” he said.
“The local boys have been training pretty well.
“We were training before Christmas and then we have a few others around the state.
“We have one of Bruce's cousins who is an ex-NRL player he played a few games for the Titans - Caleb Binge.
“We are expecting to be competitive against some tough teams. The team is pretty excited.”
Sylvia said emotions will be running high when they run out on to the field and Bruce’s memory will provide extra drive for the side.
“More passion and drive towards wanting to play in memory of Bruce,” she said.
“There will be a lot of emotion towards the game as well because everyone is linked to Bruce and played with him and they know what he was like on the field.
Geoff added: “Bruce was a very tough player, very passionate about his footy.”
Sylvia said: “Competitive, always wanted to win and didn't like losing in anything.”
Bruce’s children – Jahkeem, Mary and Jerrakai – have been part of the rugby league team’s preparation in the lead-up to the knockout.
“Bruce's son Jahkeem and his nine-year-old daughter Mary, she plays football and they are very, very passionate just like their father,” Sylvia said.
“They have been coming to training and making sure everyone is training.”
There have been a host of local businesses and groups who have come on board to support the team.
“We have also got a lot of sponsors from in town I would like to give a bit of a thank you to - Adam McIntosh, Crisp Real Estate, The Eliminator, Tenterfield Tigers, Tenterfield Chainsaw and Mowers, Telegraph Hotel, Greenview Restaurant, Sullivans Newsagency, Homemakers and Hey Presto. Also Rod McIntosh for the artwork on Bruce’s jerseys,” Sylvia said.
If you or someone you know needs support call Lifeline 13 11 14, BeyondBlue 1300 224 636, Men’s Line Australia 1300 78 99 78 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
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