Rugby league stars team up with GMP to play their part for Mahdlo

RUGBY League stars from Oldham and beyond will do their bit against police officers in a 13-hour marathon game to raise funds for Mahdlo Youth Zone.

Current Warrington ace Kevin Brown and Hull FC’s Jake Connor will be joined by local products Mark Flanagan and Joe and James Greenwood in taking part and taking on Greater Manchester Police’s finest in the event.

Just 15 officers are taking part in the GMP team, although as Inspector Danny Atherton, who helped organise the fundraiser, explains: “It’s only seven-a-side, so 15 doesn’t sound as bad when it’s seven-a-side!”

Former players Paul Highton, Kevin Sinfield, Iestyn Harris and Barrie McDermott will also pull on their boots in the event, which takes place at Mahdlo on Egerton Street in Oldham from 7am until 8pm on Saturday.

Super League referee and Oldham lad Robert Hicks will also be officiating two of the hour-long touch rugby matches.

Waterhead Under-18s and year six pupils from St Joseph’s Primary School in Shaw will also take on the police officers in the event, which hopes to raise about £2,500 for Mahdlo.

“It’s been massive,” added Insp Atherton, who himself played rugby league for local sides Higginshaw and Saddleworth Rangers.

“You can really see the difference in the kids that go there. Prior to that, there was nowhere to go so there were cases of them causing annoyance.

“With something like that coming in, you wonder to yourself, ‘Why wasn’t something like this done before?’

“The money we raise will help Mahdlo with the upkeep of the building and get some new equipment. It’s partially funded by Oldham Council but predominantly relies on things like this.”

The rugby league marathon follows last year’s 24-hour football match at Mahdlo, in which a number of the rugby league players took part.

And Chris Wareing, Chairman at Mahdlo Youth Zone said: “Our relationship with GMP and in particular the Oldham Town Centre Policing team and St Mary’s is crucial in promoting a strong positive relationship between the police and our young people.

“For their continued support over the years myself, the team and every young person that attends Mahdlo would like to say a huge thank you.”

Former dual-code Wales international Harris, Brown and Connor will play from 9am-10am, Sinfield and McDermott from noon-1pm and Salford star Flanagan, both Greenwoods – who play for Wigan and Hull KR – and former Salford star Highton all team up between 4pm and 5pm.

The Marathon runs from 7am – 8pm on Saturday. Entry to the venue is 50p per person and all proceeds go to Mahdlo.

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