Nat Barnes, the Tweed Seagulls winger and Elanora High School chaplain.
Nat Barnes, the Tweed Seagulls winger and Elanora High School chaplain. Blainey Woodham

Barnes' door is always open

TIME spent in the company of the Tweed Seagulls’ Nathanael Barnes is an uplifting experience.

This quietly spoken, unassuming young man has the world at his feet.

A freakish try-scoring wizard on a rugby league field, a diligent, hard-working university student and as a committed Christian, thrilled in his work as school chaplain at Elanora State High School.

It was quite apt for his parents to name him after the Apostle, Nathanael (Bartholomew), whose dedication to his task of preaching Jesus’s teachings knew no bounds.

Only a flaying and crucification by a mob in Armenia could stop Nat Barnes’ namesake from carrying out his duties – fortunately the only mobs in this neck of the woods interested in our Nat are football fans and the student body at Elanora High.

And both have nothing but admiration for his skills and achievements on and off the football field.

As a winger, Barnes has no peers as a finisher in the Intrust Super Cup – his ability to take the final pass and find a way to the tryline has mesmerised footy fans ever since he took up the game as a 17-year-old with Tweed Heads Seagulls juniors.

He took a while to come to league, concentrating his sporting talents to the athletics track where his ability as a triple-jumper and sprinter took him to numerous state junior championships.

That speed, both off the mark and in full stride, has been partially responsible for Nat’s freakish try-scoring record at Seagulls – he holds every record at the club – most career tries (74 from 93 games), most tries in a season (22) and most tries in a match (5).

But it is is high workrate and uncanny ability to read the play and be the Natty-on-the-spot to pull in the final pass and plant the pill over the white line which are his major attributes out on the paddock.

The 28-year-old retains a passion for the game – he still has a zest for training and that’s where success always starts, loves pulling on his boots and playing alongside a “great bunch of blokes”.

Despite the time consumed training and playing footy and studying part-time for a degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences through Central Queensland University, Nat can still head off to Elanora High every day where his Christian values are, well, valued by the entire school.

“I admit I get a kick out of scoring tries, but even more important to me is being in a position to mentor those students at Elanora who are in need of pastoral care,” Nat said.

“As school chaplain, my door is always open. Many of these children are doing it tough on the home front and they are in just need of someone to listen to their problems.

“I don’t preach to them; I listen, offer words of advice if I think it can help or otherwise direct them to the correct channels.

“It is a very fulfilling job and, pardon the football pun, I get a real kick out of doing something positive for them.”

Tweed Daily News is equally positive our readers will get a kick out of reading about Nathanael Barnes.

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