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Shaun Johnson meets winner of MILO MVP

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Palmerston North

Shaun Johnson travels to Palmerston North to meet good sport Connor Brown

New Zealand Rugby League star Shaun Johnson is on his way to a school in Palmerston North to meet one of his greatest fans and all-round good sport, Connor Brown, a well-deserving winner from the MILO Valuable Players campaign.

Connor Brown, age 11 years, was nominated by his dad earlier this year for the national MILO search for kids who display the values of good sportsmanship and fair play.

Mitchell Brown, Connor’s very proud Dad, says he nominated Connor for his leadership and unwavering commitment to his local and school rugby league teams.

“Connor goes to all of the trainings and all of the games, and gives 100% every time. He’s dedicated, but at the same time he’s not just in it for himself, he’s there for the team, and wants everyone – both sides of the field – to have a good time. If a player on the other team is hurt, he always makes sure they are OK before getting back into the game. Connor may be one of the smaller players, but he shows leadership well beyond his age or size,” says Mr Brown.

Connor attends Our Lady of Lourdes School in Palmerston North. The school has about 150 students, but Shaun’s visit is a really big deal for the wider community, deputy principal Colette O’Connor explains.

“The kids are very excited about meeting Shaun and having a genuine sports star visit our school. We are a close-knit community and we have a lot of Shaun fans out there, so we’ve invited Connor’s League club and the mums and dads along too. The students will also have the opportunity to listen to Shaun talk about sportsmanship and how important fair play is. To hear this message from someone like Shaun will certainly have an impact.”

The action-packed day will begin with the school giving a Kapa Haka welcome for Shaun followed by a special school assembly. Shaun will talk about sportsmanship and fair play and officially congratulate Connor as a winner from the MILO Valuable Players campaign, during which Connor will be presented with a certificate and a special MILO prize pack signed by Shaun.

Afterwards, Connor and 25 of his mates will make up two teams and take part in a training session and mini league game with Shaun. Shaun will show off some of his signature moves and talk about how he went from dreaming of playing sport professionally to making it happen.

At 11 years old, Connor plays rugby league for the Kia Ora Warriors (Manawatu) under 13s grade and is also involved in league at school. Shaun is Connor’s role model because he can relate to his passion and love of league despite being a smaller player.

Shaun Johnson says, “I was small growing up, but I didn’t let that stop me, and Connor isn’t letting his size matter either. He’s an inspiring kid.”

“Our greatest sporting heroes are those who – win or lose – are a positive influence on the people around them. Great attitudes and behaviour starts when kids are young.”

Shaun’s season came to an abrupt end earlier this year after he broke his ankle, but he remains positive, “I may not be able to play right now but my focus is still on the game and supporting my team. Giving back to kids in sport like Connor is really worthwhile.”

“A big shout out to Connor’s dad and all the other parents who nominated their kids. My dad was a hugely positive influence on my involvement in sport. MILO Valuable Players is definitely the kind of thing he would have nominated me for if it had been around when I was younger,” says Shaun.

The MILO team hopes the exciting campaign has helped spread the message of sportsmanship to Kiwi kids around the country setting them up to have fun and play fair for the rest of their sporting life.

Nestlé New Zealand Country Manager, Veronique Cremades says, “Parents are the best role models to encourage young Kiwis to be involved in sport. MILO Valuable Players focuses on stories of leadership, teamwork, confidence, positivity, commitment – or anything deemed in the spirit of good sportsmanship by a parent or guardian. These values arm our children to tackle challenges, try new things and chase their dreams in life.”

November 18 order of events

  • 12:30pm special school assembly
    • Kapa Haka group to welcome Shaun
    • Shaun’s presentation on good sportsmanship
  • 1:30pm Connor and his schoolmates participate in league training session and mini game with Shaun on the school field

About Shaun Johnson

Shaun was born and raised in Whangaparaoa with his four brothers by his father.

Shaun says, “I played anything involving a ball growing up including touch rugby and basketball. My break into professional Rugby League came when my dad sent a video of me playing league to a family friend and it got into the hands of the Warriors.” Shaun has played for the New Zealand Warriors since 2009. He has played many sports including basketball and rugby union, but made his name playing touch and rugby league. He has also represented New Zealand in the New Zealand National Rugby League team.

Who is your role model?

“My dad has been a constant support in my life and has always encouraged me to do my best.”

“I was a small player growing up, but that didn’t stop me – I ate well, trained heaps and didn’t give up.”

What advice do you have for sporty Kiwi kids?

“I was that kid with the impossible dream. Turn up and give every game your best.”

MILO Valuable Players Campaign

MILO MVP is a national search for kids aged 6-12 years who display the values of fair play and good sportsmanship.

Ambassadors Abby Erceg (Football Ferns Captain), Shaun Johnson (Rugby League Star) and Anthony Hudson (All Whites Coach) are proud supporters of the campaign.

Contact information:

Simone Rosentreter, Network Communication
[email protected] or (09) 306 5813 / 021 1374137

Anita Catalano, Nestlé Oceania
[email protected]é.com or +61 406 403 397