This week the NRL celebrates Indigenous Round, paying tribute to Australia’s Indigenous people. Rugby league is doing a lot to promote positive cultural relations in Australia. This year six indigenous Australians started in the Australian league team that played the Kiwis. That was a record for an Australian sports team.
This is one aspect of the NRL’s commitment to RECOGNISE, which recognises the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian constitution.
NRL Welfare and Education officer Dean Widders is a former player. who works with today’s indigenous players. “We teach them about being a proud indigenous person,” he says. “Our culture is based on respect, giving, and looking after the community. Becoming a man meant looking after people and taking on responsibilities, that’s our true culture.
“A lot of traumatic things have happened to our people and we’ve grown up hearing a lot of negative stories. But the more I learned about my indigenous culture the stronger person I became.”
This week some of the NRL teams will wear specially designed indigenous jerseys. And for the first time in history, all referees will also wear special jerseys. The jersey in the picture above is the Aboriginal All Stars jersey. The art work is amazing and tells stories of the unity and history of the Indigenous people.
As Dean Widders says, projects like this are about: “Connecting with your past, to make you stronger in the present so you can have a more positive future.”