Creating Chances would like to congratulate our Company Secretary and Founding Chairman Mike Brown, who has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for outstanding services to rugby. 

Mike’s award was announced as part of the Governor General’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2021 to recognise his significant contributions to the sport, an in particular Rugby Youth Foundation and Creating Chances.

Mike also held leadership roles as a Director at Australian Rugby Union, Youth Director at NSW Waratahs, Chairman at Australian Junior Rugby Union, Director at Sydney Junior Rugby Union, and Director and President at Gordon Rugby Union.

This honour came out of the blue, took me totally by surprise and is very humbling. Although the recognition cites rugby, the honour primarily reflects my commitment to and participation in Rugby Youth Foundation and Creating Chances, and my support of and advocacy for Public Education. 



Rugby Youth Foundation

Mike was Youth Director of Rugby in NSW during the 2003 Rugby World Cup when he met Jim Bignell. Jim was involved in Corporate Entertainment during the World Cup and was interested in a leaving a legacy impact in Australia. His vision was that a vulnerable young person could be introduced to rugby union and, through embracing the values of the sport, could have a life-changing impact. 

Mike took the lead, connecting with Kerry Chikaroski, Barbara Holborough, Chris Riley, Mission Australia, and representatives from High Schools. The decision was to invest in a project that would achieve social impact, providing underserved young people with access to a sport that many others took for granted.

Jim, Mike and the small team got going. It was really really tough.

By 2006 I was about to give up, we were ready to give up. We had about $30,000 left in the bank. It was really hard work, developing programs very similar to what we have today with Creating Chances and Football United. Far less sophisticated of course, because we’ve come so far!

Rugby in the Park was Rugby Youth Foundation’s program, looking to achieve similar outcomes to what Creating Chances achieves today. The Board of Directors was expanded, sustained funding was secured and the program flourished in Western Sydney.

Creating Chances

By 2015, Rugby Youth Foundation and Football United joined forces, with the ultimate decision to ‘close down’ Rugby Youth Foundation, by changing its name to Creating Chances. 

The best story, though, is what’s happening now. The hanging on and the keeping going and the building the reputation is all worth it. The one thing that we had was an excellent reputation. We had an excellent reputation for doing what we said we would do right from the start.

Mike continues to play an active role as Creating Chances’ Secretary (“one of those back room people”, in his own words) watching the organisation continue to thrive almost 20 years after it was just an idea. 

What I like most about Creating Chances, is that it does give kids a chance. It does give kids a route back if they’re struggling, it does give people who are challenged by a new environment, by a new country, a road map to become part of the new country they’re now a part of. It’s all that sort of stuff is what I really like and the fact that we’re in there doing that is very rewarding and very fulfilling for me.