Rugby league legend Steve Mortimer is getting behind a new cause- one that he believes is even more important than his time on the field.
The Sutherland Shire resident is committed to improving the lives of older Australians, something he learnt as a young boy.
‘’When I was young, my father told me to always respect your elders,’’ he said.
‘’It’s something that has always stuck with me and I think there needs to be more importance given to our senior Australians.’’
Mr Mortimer is behind Australian Shuffleboard which he established after he retired in 1988.
The game is around 500 years old and is a table game, like lawn bowls, but it's played with pucks and the jack is a trench at the end of the table.
Mr Mortimer first saw it being played at a pub in 1985.
He said it’s one of the only sports that everyone can play regardless of physical ability.
‘’The number of seniors has doubled in the last 20 years and the great thing about shuffleboard is that anyone can take part,’’ he said.
‘’You can use a wheelchair or walker and still be able to take part.
‘’It changes people both physically and mentally.’’
He has spent the last three decades installing shuffleboards into aged care homes, retirement villages, clubs and community centres. The first was put into a Queensland retirement in 1995.
This year he has marked another milestone; installing what he believes is the first shuffleboard in an Australian church.
He has already hosted a few tutorials for seniors at the Menai Anglican Church ahead of the launch of Summerfest on Monday, January 16.
The festival aims to bring shuffleboard to a wider audience with everyone welcome to take part.
The first day of the festival will include tutorials on shuffleboard before a tournament on Friday.
For more information on shuffleboard go to www.australianshuffleboard.com.au.