'A common goal': Rival clubs unite to help one of own

Cobras coach John Leota.
Cobras coach John Leota. Franca Tigani

EVEN on the sports field, sometimes the result comes second to something a little more important.

Goodna's narrow win over the Eastern Cobras at the weekend was one of those occasions.

The two neighbouring clubs of the Rugby League Ipswich competition wore matching pink socks on Saturday night, to raise awareness for breast cancer.

The gesture was made in support of Cobras coach John Leota's daughter Sofie, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Leota, a former Eagles premiership player, watched on as Goodna president Ramon Filipine presented Sofie with a cheque on behalf of the club to help with her ongoing treatment.

It was a sobering moment for all involved, and showed even the fiercest on-field rivalries can be put to the side when matters of life and family come to the fore.

"There's always been a connection there with us and Redbank," Filipine said.

"We always have players who have played for both clubs be it in juniors or seniors. John played for Goodna before, all the old boys know who John is.

"He used to play footy with my Dad. So when we learned his daughter had cancer, we jumped to get on board and support them."

Filipine said wearing the same socks showed unity, even if the playing strip of the two teams was different.

"We had different jerseys, but the socks represented the same thing for the same person," he said. "We were there for a common goal.

"After the game we all prayed together in the middle (of the field). It was pretty special.

"We wish (Sofie) the best on her journey."

Goodna coach Laurie Campbell knows the Leota family quite well.

"I've known John and the family since the kids were born, they were all up there at Redbank Plains Bears as juniors," Campbell said.

"It was an emotional day for everyone. It was good for both clubs to be able to do that."

In Leota's mind, his focus was squarely on preparing his team the best he could to play the reigning premiers.

"I was focusing on getting the boys ready for the game," he said.

"Credit to our president Jodie (Elder) and the Cobras committee for sorting it out.

"The boys were just focused on trying to get the win.

"But it did mean a lot to me as a father. It was nice to see the community support not only my daughter, but awareness for breast cancer and all ladies out there.

"Thank you to Goodna again. It was very thoughtful of Ramon and the coaching staff at Goodna. It's nice to have the local derby and still support each other.

"My daughter was in tears. She has always supported rugby league."

Topics:  breast cancer awareness goodna rugby league club rugby league ipswich