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Nehe, Mussie share their journeys in return home

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what your background is, anything is achievable.”

That was one of the messages from rugby star Nehe Milner-Skudder and Auckland-based “Gizzy boy” Mustafa Sheikh, who returned to the district this week to talk to young people about realising their hopes and dreams.

Mustafa, aka Mussie, is the founder of the Bread Foundation, a mentoring programme delivered at low-decile schools.

He also organises the Charity Supercar Rally, an annual fundraiser in which a convoy of supercars drives down Auckland’s Queen Street, with gold coin proceeds going towards the programme.

A former student of Gisborne Boys’ High School, Ilminster Intermediate, Central and St Mary’s schools, Mussie has been running the programme in low-decile schools in Auckland.

It has been a goal of his to deliver it in his hometown.

Mussie joined forces with Ngati Porou All Black and Hurricanes player Nehe in a special trip home to talk with Gisborne and East Coast students.

Mussie shared his journey of growing up in Gisborne to studying at Auckland University before creating the Bread Foundation.

Nehe, who is heading to France to start a three-year contract with Toulon at the end of the year, talked about a rugby career that has taken him to the highest level of success — winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

They encouraged the students to speak up and share their dreams and aspirations.

“To come back in this manner and give back to my community is amazing,” said Mussie.

“It’s been on my bucket list for a while and to be here with Nehe is even more special.

“I think it’s important for someone like me to come back because students will relate to it.

“They see me and think ‘oh, he was a kid who went to our school. He walked through the same hallway’. It makes it a lot more of a difference.”

The pair visited Ilminster and Boys’ High in Gisborne, then headed up the Coast to Ngata Memorial College, where Nehe’s mother Heneriata Milner is principal.

“I’m very passionate about this and it’s always good to come back home,” said the rugby star. “You see yourself in these kids. I was running around barefoot like they do at the marae up the Coast.”

He enjoyed answering the students’ questions.

“They were asking me how I got where I am and what was the path; what lessons and experiences I had. Hopefully I can leave them with some gems that they can use.

“It’s been a silver lining with me being injured (Nehe did not play a Super Rugby game year due to a shoulder injury). I now have a bit of time to tipi haere (roam) around and get back to our communities and help our tamariki out — give them another voice of hope and inspiration, empower them.

“And to hear from them, too, and see what their dreams are. We just want to awhi (embrace) and support them, see what they can pick up and use for their journeys as well.”

INSPIRED TO ASPIRE: Ngati Porou All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder talks with students at Ilminster Intermediate. He and Bread Foundation founder Mustafa “Mussie” Sheikh, who grew up in Gisborne, returned to the district this week to talk with young people about realising their dreams. Picture by Paul Rickard