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NRL announces plans for 2018 Festival of Indigenous Rugby League
The second Festival of Indigenous Rugby League will kick off the 2018 rugby league season on 10th February next year, with the NRL announcing a week-long celebration and matches to be played at Redfern Oval.
Next year’s Festival will follow a similar process to the inaugural Festival that occurred at the start of 2014, with the aim of providing an opportunity for the next generation of rugby league players outside of the NRL to showcase their skills and talent.
Six teams will play as part of the Festival, with an emerging men’s and women’s Maori team participating for the first time.
Popular Indigenous All Stars elements will form part of the Festival, including the Youth Summit and NRL Indigenous Players Cultural Camp.
A wellbeing and employment summit will also take place, thanks to a partnership between the NRL and the Australian Government.
Current Indigenous All Stars coach, Laurie Daley will take charge of the emerging Indigenous men’s team - the First Nation Goannas - and said the week would be a culmination of combined Indigenous and Maori celebration.
Daley advised “there are some incredibly gifted Indigenous and Maori rugby league players amongst our communities that are on the cusp of NRL and representative rugby league, and fans of our game are in for a real treat when the men’s and women’s teams take to the field.
“This is more than just about the matches though, with the whole Festival being a chance for our communities to come together and celebrate the inclusiveness that exists throughout rugby league.”
Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council Chairperson Linda Burney MP, welcomed the announcement of the Festival and the inclusion of the Maori teams.
She added “I can’t think of a better way to commence the 2018 rugby league season than with two of the world’s oldest cultures coming together to showcase the best our game has to offer, both on and off the field.”
The Festival has the proud support of the Australian Government, with Federal Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt, AM MP announcing funding for the delivery of resilience and mental health workshops to participating teams and Youth Summit attendees, together with the distribution of mental health resources to all game day attendees.
NRL Head of Government and Community Relations, Jaymes Boland-Rudder acknowledged the ongoing support of Indigenous health and mental wellbeing programs within the NRL and said the Festival would be another chance to engage with local communities and ensure additional support and care for those most in need.
Boland-Rudder concluded “rugby league plays a significant role in the lives of many Indigenous and Maori communities and the message that the Government and our game will deliver together during the Festival, with the support of players, will go a long way to ensuring that we continue to look out for one another and strive to live happy and healthy lives."
Further information on the Festival will be announced online in early 2018 at www.nrl.com.
Image shows the 2017 Indigenous All Stars.
14th August 2015 - NRL shortlisted for international Beyond Sport award
28th February 2015 - NRL celebrates 15 years of Community Carnival
16th August 2014 - NRL launches new reconciliation action plan
26th January 2013 - NRL stars back rugby league’s new anti-bullying message
9th December 2011 - AFL indigenous program receives Beyond Sport Award
15th June 2011 - Queensland NRL clubs help Indigenous kids move from school to work
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