On 11 July 2002, a meeting was held at the New South Wales Leagues Club to launch the Men of League Foundation.
The idea of forming the Men of League Foundation began with discussions between tough prop and then Judiciary Commissioner Jim Hall, Canterbury and Manly back Max Brown, and ‘Team of the Century’ back-rower Ron Coote, who all expressed concern for former players who were doing it tough.
One of these Ron knew of was his hero Doug McRitchie, physically weak in a hospital on the South Coast of New South Wales. Touched by this and other experiences Ron, Jim, and Max held a meeting attended by 140 players, officials, and referees. Men of League Foundation was born and those attending that first meeting become the founding members.
The name Men of League was suggested by Narelle Hughes, wife of former Canterbury player, Graeme Hughes. She had used the name for a calendar she had published for a number of years.
Ron Coote AM became the first Chairman and another former player and past Premier of New South Wales, retired Federal Cabinet Minister and former head of the World Anti-Doping Authority the Honourable John Fahey AC, was asked to become the Patron.
A committee was formed and the first major fund raising event was organised. This was the Men of League Gala Dinner, a black tie affair attended by over 700 people. The Gala Dinner was held in September just a few months after the first meeting and proved to be an outstanding success.
The Men of League Foundation Gala Dinner is now a highlight of the rugby league social calendar in Sydney.
This Gala Dinner and the Queensland Gala Luncheon, attracting around 900 guests, are the Foundation’s major fundraising activities in which the great charity work done by the Men of League Foundation is celebrated. The Gala Dinner and Gala Luncheon carry a theme each year that acknowledges the many exciting moments in the game. Past events have carried themes such as Toughest Twelve, Centenary of Club Greats, Magnificent 7, Captains’ Captain, and Greatest Kangaroos.
Throughout the year many events are staged by our enthusiastic committees who work tirelessly in their communities to identify those needing our help, provide social support and deliver events that bring together members and friends of the Foundation.
There is so much of which the Men of League Foundation can be proud.
In 2006 the good work of the Foundation was recognised by the Australian Tax Office, and the Men of League Foundation was granted the highest possible charitable status as an Income Tax Exempt and Deductible Gift Recipient Charity.