Former rugby league star Steve Mortimer is best known for his time playing for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, but these days is most likely to be found at aged care or retirement villages running shuffleboard competitions to bring joy and a competitive spirit to residents.

When Steve Mortimer enters aged care and retirement villages, he is frequently recognised as the former rugby league halfback who played for the Canterbury-Bulldogs from 1976-1988.

However, it’s not footy he’s playing these days, it’s the increasingly popular game of shuffleboard. Steve first played shuffleboard in a pub in the late ’80s, and was immediately struck by how fun and inclusive the game was for all ages.

“An 8-year-old child can play against a 97-year-old lady and both be competitive and get a win,” he said. “I love the life of ‘team sport’ because each player is different and in a team they all have to do their best.”

He started up Australian Shuffleboard, which rents out and sells shuffleboards and runs competitions and events to connect communities of players together.

Steve has helped residents at Southhaven Aged Care in Padstow Heights connect with nearby aged care homes for shuffleboard competitions that promote physical activity and social enjoyment.

His son Andrew also helps with the business, and said the inclusiveness of the game made it perfect for aged care and retirement villages. “It’s an activity that allows staff to play alongside residents, as opposed to just assisting residents with physical activity.

It’s also a game that requires little ability to play but gets the competitive juices flowing. The game requires more brain power than muscle power, so stretches the mind while providing some incidental exercise.

We have had anecdotal evidence of the game inspiring residents in aged care find a new lease of life,” he said. The game also allows people in wheelchairs to be able to participate.

“The game allows quite frail people to compete on a level playing field with the fittest athlete in the world. Our ideal scenario is when grandchildren visiting their grandparents in either an aged care facility or a retirement village compete in a game of shuffleboard,”

Andrew said. Christadelphian Aged Care has shuffleboards at many of our Homes, and families are encouraged to challenge their loved one to a game.