England footballing legend Stuart Pearce says he has watched rugby league star Mose Masoe handle his career-ending and life-changing injury with ‘complete admiration and wonderment’ – and says he is thrilled to have become an ambassador for the Mose Masoe Foundation.
Former Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United, West Ham and Manchester City star Pearce, 58, who played 78 times for England and captained the nation nine times, is a huge Rugby League fan and follows the Warrington Wolves both home and away.
It was from following the Wolves that he formed a firm friendship with Aussie coach Tony Smith - now coach at Masoe’s current club Hull Kingston Rovers – who has been one of the driving forces behind the formation of the newly established Mose Masoe Foundation.
Mose, 31, suffered a C4/C5 incomplete spinal cord injury last January which led to him being diagnosed tetraplegic – one of the worst forms of paralysis - meaning he has partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso.
Whilst some people experience improvements in symptoms, and others may regain partial or complete control over the affected areas with time, there is currently no way to reverse the damage done.
Mose can still walk only a few unaided steps and any brief activity leaves him shattered. He still has no sensation or dexterity in his hands.
His partner Carrisa has had to become his full-time carer alongside looking after their three young children, providing daily assistance with tasks such as personal hygiene and going to the toilet, as his and bladder and bowels do not function naturally.
Pearce, who visited Mose shortly after his injury when beginning his rehabilitation at a specialist spinal care unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield last year, says he has been left in awe at the Samoan’s positivity ever since.
“I was obviously aware of Mose’s career and had watched him play against my side Warrington Wolves on a number of occasions, and as a sportsman myself I have always been in awe of Rugby League players, how physically fit and strong they are and the way they put their bodies on the line to entertain people like they do.
“When I first met Mose in hospital I was immediately struck by his demeanour and his complete positivity.
“Even then he was determined to help others. He was talking about how he was going to push himself to be walking out of the spinal unit as soon as possible, and how he wanted to support and inspire the others in the unit at the time as him.
“I just looked at him in complete admiration and wonderment. He’d just been told his life had been forever changed and there was not one ounce of self-pity. He was completely positive.
“I think Mose is a real shining example of how you can deal with adversity in life. We all experience some form of adversity at times, whether it be through injury like Mose or perhaps the loss of loved ones, and Mose’s attitude and positivity is absolutely inspiring.”
Family could be left hundreds of thousands of pounds short without fundraising campaign
Despite much-appreciated support from the Rugby League Benevolent Fund and Rugby League Cares already, Mose and his family are facing the prospect of potentially being left hundreds of thousands of pounds short of what they need to live in some form of comfort, even after an expected insurance payout.
It has brought the matter of levels of insurance cover into the spotlight across the game, and Pearce, who now works as a pundit for talkSPORT radio, says it is something which needs addressing.
“I really believe that the sport is under-valued in our country and the players’ bodies take the most punishment of any sport alongside boxers and jump jockeys,” he said.
“Rugby League is a brutal sport and when things like what happened to Mose happen, players need the financial support to be in place for them. Hopefully that is something which will be looked at now. They need to have sufficient protection in place.”
Mose’s predicament has seen the Rugby League community come together again, as it has done in the past to support players like Rob Burrow in the UK, and Alex McKinnon in the NRL.
Fans in the UK are being urged to buy ‘virtual tickets’ across the ‘Mose Masoe Round 2’ Easter fixtures to support the Foundation, or donate to a Go Fund Me page.
In Australia the Men of League Foundation is spearheading a ‘We Stand With Mose’ campaign, again aiming to raise thousands of pounds.
“The rugby league community is an example to all other sports. It’s tremendous,” said Pearce.
“Obviously I’ve lived a life in football and I often wish my sport had the same qualities and togetherness across the sport as Rugby League does, from the very top players, right down to the grass roots clubs and kids.
“I always love Grand Final day as it’s not just the supporters of the two teams at Old Trafford, but the entire rugby league community that comes together to celebrate.
“It has been incredible how that rugby community has come together again for Mose now, and I am honoured to be an ambassador for the Foundation and to be able to support him and others in any way I can.”
Mose Masoe will be the first beneficiary of the Foundation to carry his name. It will then look to support others by relieving the financial and mental hardship of players who suffer spinal injuries affecting their welfare and quality of life.
Fans can choose to donate either £5, £10, £15, or £20 when buying a virtual ticket.
The virtual tickets will be a donation only, as a gesture of solidarity within the Rugby League community, meaning a Sky Sports subscription is still required to watch the games as normal.
TEXT 70085 and....
Text 5MOSE to donate £5
Text 10MOSE to donate £10
Text 15MOSE to donate £15
Text 20MOSE to donate £20
Texts cost amount donated plus one standard rate message
Donations can also be made at the Foundation’s Go Fund Me Page