Youths have a life-changing time

TREACHEROUS, tough but rewarding is the way Kingswood High School school captain Joshua Rodman summed up the Kokoda Track.

He was of one of seven students chosen to join Penrith Panthers NRL coach Ivan Cleary and players Tim Grant and Jamie Soward on the trek with Panthers on the Prowl last year.

The journey was filmed by TVS for a one-hour documentary, Kokoda: In the Footsteps of the Brave, which premieres this month.

Joshua, 17, said he was excited about seeing himself on screen. Both his grandfathers, Ronald Rodman and Gordon Gilmore, fought in World War II along the infamous track in Papua New Guinea.

The crew completed the gruelling trek in six days — it usually takes 10. "We'd start before sunlight and still be walking after sundown," Joshua said. "We walked on tree roots and through waist-deep water. The hardest part was leaving. I wanted to stay."

The promising AFL player learned a lot from the league players and made lifelong friends. "Everyone had a different perspective on life. Jamie Soward, in particular, shared stories many don't know about him. When I'm training and think I'm suffering, I think of Kokoda and I push harder."

He encouraged other young people to do it. "It'll be the best experience of your whole life!"

The film is narrated by Phil Gould.

It screens on TVS free-to-air channel 44 on February 22 at 6.30pm, on February 24 at midnight and noon and on February 27 at 5pm.

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