Watching New Zealand's national sport on television was about as close as 14-year-old Paige O'Shea had come to a rugby ball before spending the afternoon with the Tasman Makos at Trafalgar Park.
But the Richmond girl, who finished chemotherapy for a brain tumour eight months ago, braved a chilly breeze for a kickabout with her sister Ella and players Chris Bentley and Kahu Marfell on Monday.
Paige and her sister are members of the charity Canteen, which is one of three being supported by the Makos this year.
Tasman Makos marketing executive Shelley Roberts said the Air New Zealand Cup franchise had chosen Canteen because several players and staff had lost people close to them to cancer in recent years.
Canteen provides support services for people aged 13-24 living with cancer, and also opens that support up to their siblings.
Paige said getting to know other young people through Canteen had helped her through times when she felt alone. She attends two classes a day at Waimea College but still spends time at Canteen's members' lounge in Trafalgar St.
Marfell said young people were New Zealand's future and should be supported in any way possible.
Canteen's new member liaison officer, Joelene Whitfield, said that as well as taking young people on trips away, Canteen had a growing range of facilities available in the city.
The charity had a new members' lounge where people could hang out and meet others affected by cancer, and share their experiences, she said.
Miss Whitfield said young people living with cancer could contact the charity on 0800 CANTEEN or by email at nelson\@\canteen.org.nz.
The charity's annual bandanna week appeal will start on October 15.
- The Nelson Mail
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