Weekends are great, they’re an opportunity to catch up on sleep and give most of us the opportunity to escape the constraints of the Monday to Friday, 9-5 grind. However, this is not the case for South Sydney Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly, who spends his weekend keeping fit and effective by being an active surf life saver.
Each Saturday and Sunday, Blake volunteers down at Clovelly Beach Surf Lifesaving Club where he is involved in a variety of lifesaving activities that gives back to the community.
Solly traces his love of the surf back to his childhood growing up on the central coast. Getting back into it was a case of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ for the Rabbitohs boss after 11 years in dreary England.
“As a kid I did nippers and some surf lifesaving when I was younger at Terrigal Surf Club because I grew up on the central coast,” said Blake.
“In recent history I spent 11 years in England and there isn’t a lot of surf lifesaving in the north of England.
“When we moved back to Australia I was really keen for my daughter to experience some of the stuff I did when I was a kid and to spend some time at the beach. We had family who were involved at Clovelly so that was the obvious place to join.
“Francesca, having come from the UK, wasn’t that used to swimming in the ocean - let alone swimming in oceans where there are waves - so Clovelly, being a relatively peaceful beach, was the right place to start,” explained Solly.
Surf awareness is an extremely important education for everyone who lives in Australia and Blake, who wanted his daughter Francesca to be more mindful on the dangers of the ocean, found it a great opportunity to get back involved with a surf club.
“I wanted her to do nippers and then I felt that if she is going to be down there on the weekends, I thought it would be good for me to get involved in the surf club,” said Solly.
“So I decided to get my bronze medallion at the club last year and started doing some patrols and some water safety on the weekends.”
Getting up at the crack of dawn can be a daunting task at the best of times let alone on a weekend, however for Blake, the opportunity to give back to the community can’t be passed up.
“For me it’s real nice to be volunteering and putting something back into the community and secondly to do it with people who are wonderful, create a great social environment, are fully committed to the community, look after themselves when swimming in the ocean and look after others when they are doing it as well,” said Solly.
“It’s exciting you learn some really practical skills, especially doing your bronze medallion, all the attention to basic first aid and resuscitation and surf rescue.”
However, after digging a little further we learnt that there is more to enjoy about lifesaving than just community participation.
“One of the attractions of Clovelly is that it’s uniquely positioned slightly into Roosters territory but has a lot of Rabbitohs fans who live there, so the Book of Feuds is alive and well when it comes to Clovelly Surf Club on any given Sunday. There is plenty of banter up their between Roosters and Rabbitohs.”
Mixing with the like of Rabbitohs Team Manager Mark Ellison and ex-Rabbitohs Joe Thomas, Darren McCarthy and Craig Coleman, Blake gets to enjoy two of his favourite things on the weekend.
“There are a lot of Rabbitohs and Roosters fans that head down to the club on a Sunday afternoon to watch the footy and some of the best times you can have is when the Rabbitohs are winning and Roosters are losing,” said Solly.
“It’s always good fun with plenty of banter and I think in some ways that it’s great for the social scene at the surf club but also good for the sport. People are talking about Rugby League and that rivalry, which encourages people to care and watch more of the sport.”