Peter Mata’utia has been announced as this year’s recipient of the Loch Lomond Spirit of Super League award.
The award is bestowed upon someone who epitomises the values of the sport but also that goes above and beyond what is expected of them as a professional sportsman.
Previous winners of the prestigious award are Jamie Jones-Buchanan (2019), Rob Burrow and Mose Masoe (2020) and Kevin Sinfield (2021).
Mata’utia received the award as recognition for his support of the social care charity Community Integrated Care, as an Ambassador for its Learning Disability Super League programme and backing for their work to change the lives of people who access care and support.
Mata’utia started working with the charity in 2019, helping to launch the first season of the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League. Attending training sessions and helping to host an end of season celebration for players at the Betfred Super League Grand Final, he generously shared his time and skills to help kickstart the ground-breaking programme.
His support of the charity has continued, including during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, a time when many people who access social care were unable to be with their loved ones.
John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care, said of Mata’utia: “We’re privileged to have Peter’s support as an ambassador for our charity. He shares our vision of changing people’s lives through rugby league.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been the toughest time in the charity’s history, and we desperately needed to find a way to continue to support people. This is where Peter helped us – asking people to donate the money they were saving on haircuts to charity. We saw people all over social media sharing their videos, inspired by Peter’s pink rat’s tail for our charity.
“In total we raised £20,000 and that meant that care services across England were able to purchase iPads and gifts so that separated families could still stay in touch during lockdown.
“The impact Peter has made on our charity through his support, fundraising and backing of the Learning Disability Super League has made a difference to literally hundreds of people across the country. From inspiring members of our employability programmes to chase their dreams, to encouraging people to play the game that they love, he’s given people who face real barriers in their lives much-needed confidence and encouragement.
“Community Integrated Care is proud to work with someone who is so passionate, caring and committed to making a difference. We congratulate him for this well-deserved recognition.”
Earlier this year, Mata’utia spoke out as part of Super League’s Tackle the Tough Stuff campaign about his own struggles growing up including the breakdown of his family, having to care for his siblings and ultimately his own suicide attempt.
Oliver Holmes, team-mate of Mata’utia at Warrington Wolves, said: “He’s become a good friend of mine, he’s always willing to do something for you regardless of what it is. He is just a positive person to be around.
On Mata’utia revealing his upbring to his team-mates, Holmes added: “He was one of the first in the group to stand up. He spoke very openly and emotionally about his upbringing and his suicide attempt. He’d never spoken about it to anyone else before.
“Knowing his background and everything he has been through, to see him now and see the life coaching he does is incredible.”
Colin Matthews, Loch Lomond Group Chief Executive Officer, added: “We are honoured that Peter Mata’utia has accepted the Loch Lomond Spirit of Super League award.
The work he has done supporting charity through some of the toughest times in this country’s history are reflective of the type of person he is.”