Sport

Quite possibly the greatest all-round Raider of all time

By Tim Gavel 12 November 2018
Sia Soliola. Photo: Raiders.com.au.

Sia Soliola. Photo: Raiders.com.au

Sia Soliola’s random act of kindness towards a woman in distress would come as no surprise to those of us who have come to know the veteran Raiders’ forward.

If you are not across this story, it unfolded on a Gungahlin Street in Canberra where Sia came across a mother named “Tess” who was in distress after her car had been broken into and several personal items stolen. Tess had just returned from Sydney where her child underwent surgery. She was at a low point and the theft just added to her stress.

Sia was walking down the street at the time and once Tess described her predicament, he drove her around the suburb helping her look for the missing items, which may have been thrown from the thief’s car, all the while reassuring her that everything would be okay. He drove Tess home and gave her money to buy her kids something.

Tess says Sia’s actions restored her faith in humanity.

Sia working hard at training. Photo: Raiders.com.au.

Sia at training. Photo: Raiders.com.au

When I first heard this story, I wasn’t surprised at all. I have worked with Sia at the Early Morning Centre, which provides meals and services for the homeless and disadvantaged. Sia is often there washing dishes, sweeping floors or serving meals.

Sia hard at work. Photo: Raiders.com.au.

Sia with his Raiders’ team mates preparing for the 2019 season. Photo: Raiders.com.au

One action though, stands out above all else when I think about Sia. He was keen for as many homeless and disadvantaged as possible to go to a Raiders’ game. He approached sponsors and secured a number of tickets. But he didn’t stop at just arranging tickets; he arranged to pick them up and delivered them to the Early Morning Centre.

Rugby League is often portrayed in a bad light in the media. But with players such as Sia Soliola in the game, there will always be more positive stories than negative.

Read the letter below: 

Hi

My name is Tess. I’m not sure how to get this to who it needs to go to, but I’m hoping you can help and pass this onto the appropriate person.

I’ve been a Raiders member for quite a few years now & a Raiders fan since I was 5. I’m 35 now. About a month ago or a bit over that now, I had an amazing experience with Sia Soliola & I wanted to write to thank him, but also let the club know.

As a Raiders tragic, I know Sia is a leader of the club and an amazing player. But my experience with him, he also restored my faith in humanity and as a mum, he helped me & my kids out, totally off his own back and in his own personal time.

About a month ago My car was broken into overnight and some bags taken from it. I’d just returned from Sydney with my child having surgery there & I’d had major surgery myself in August. The bags stolen were just shopping bags and contained our worn clothes plus some new clothes, books and soft toys I’d only bought the day before. I was walking the streets of my suburb as up one street I’d found a bag had been tossed out and a few books & items of clothing on the road. All ruined as they’d been driven over & obviously thrown from the car of the person/people who’d broken into my car. I was walking the streets hoping to find they’d tossed more bags as the items were pretty useless to anyone but me, with the exception of the new baby clothes, kids toys I’d bought and a bag of medical papers & supplies from the hospital.

While walking I was asking anyone I saw out the front of their house or yards if they’d seen any bags around or could keep an eye out. This is when I came across Sia – just out the front in his yard. Being distressed & upset I didn’t recognise him. (Embarrassing now!!)

I asked him the same – if he’d seen anything around or could keep an eye out. He said yes definitely he’d keep an eye out, asked what happened & had a chat with me. He was incredibly nice, compassionate & asked if he could help in any way. I said no thank you, other than keeping an eye out & that the supermarket had my number if anyone found anything. I then finally recognised him as he held his hand out and said introduced himself “well my names Sia & if u ever need anything this is where I am and feel free to come up and ask’.

If I wasn’t a raiders fan I wouldn’t have recognised him & he was just another person, community member going about their own business.

We had a chat about the Raiders & general things & during that was when he saw I had tears in my eyes from the stress and things I’d lost & desperately looking for. He asked about my kids & if we were ok. He then offered to drive me around the suburb for 5/10 mins to look as I couldn’t walk far. I politely declined not wanting to put him out but he insisted. I managed to find a few bits of paperwork but nothing else. He dropped me back to my unit & also gave me some money to ‘buy the kids something’. To say I was blown away is an understatement! He was so kind, calm and just an amazing person. And incredibly generous.

He absolutely restored my faith in people & humanity and as a single parent, having my car broken into after my surgery and my child’s surgery was the last straw for me.

I’d love this note and my thanks to be passed onto Sia himself. He absolutely changed my day and his kindness, compassion, and genuine caring calmed me down & I was incredibly touched by his kindness. I couldn’t believe anyone would be so helpful or kind.
Id also love if this email could be passed onto the club to the appropriate person as an acknowledgement & to know what one of your players did and my gratitude for it.

I wouldn’t have known who Sia was if I wasn’t a Raiders fan as he didn’t mention anything. He was an absolute gentleman and was genuinely concerned for me, my kids and doing anything that may help. Even just driving me around to look then dropping me back to my unit was amazing as I was in considerable pain from my surgery & emotionally overwhelmed.

I can see why Sia is a leader at the Raiders – his genuineness and compassion was so evident. I was a total stranger walking the streets & he went above and beyond to help me.

I’m incredibly grateful and he absolutely made my day by helping me look, taking me home & making me laugh with his awesome sense of humor. He told me about when he was younger he had his first car broken into & related to that feeling of having something you own & worked hard for broken into, stolen & being left to clean up & the uselessness of those kinds of things happening. He asked how old my kids were and if we were ok, needed anything, felt safe etc. He was just simply amazing. Amazing in being so down to earth, kind and helpful.

I feel this deserves to be recognised and for the Raiders to know what Sia did & how much he helped me.

And if a thank you to Sia himself from me could be passed on I’d be so grateful. He made my day & restored my faith when I was very low after everything we’d been through.

Naturally, he didn’t have to do any of what he did, but he did and did it off his own back and in his own time and I’m so grateful for everything he did for me that day.

Thank you, and go Raiders 2019!

Kind regards,
Tess

Original Article published by Tim Gavel on the RiotACT.

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