Parramatta Eels Fijian star Maika Sivo has encouraged children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities to give Rugby League a go as the NSWRL’s Try League program, supported by the NSW Government, came to a successful conclusion for 2019 at Richie Benaud Oval in North Parramatta tonight (Wednesday 11 December).
Sivo was joined by the Acting Minister for Sport and Multiculturalism, The Hon. Geoff Lee, NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden, True Blue Nathan Hindmarsh and 25 Try League graduates, marking the end of the first program that is part of a four-year partnership between the NSW Government and NSWRL to deliver the social inclusion initiative for CALD communities.
Sivo who progressed from the Ron Massey Cup in 2016 to finish this season as the NRL’s leading try-scorer, said it was great to see children from culturally different backgrounds have access to a program that encouraged them to play Rugby League.
“I love playing Rugby League as I’ve made some really good friends and it’s great to be part of a team,” Sivo said.
“Try League gives kids an introduction to the game and it looks like they all have as much fun scoring a try as I do.
“You never know how far Rugby League can take you and it would be great to see some of the kids involved go on to have careers just like me.”
Sivo, Hindmarsh and Acting Minister Lee joined the children for a skills and drills session, which included tips on how to catch, pass and score a try, followed by a BBQ to celebrate the occasion.
The Try League program, run over eight weeks for children aged four to nine, has been well received with participants from a broad range of cultures and backgrounds including Indian, Chinese and Filipino, taking part in the initiative that focuses on integrating young children into the community through Rugby League sporting activities.
“This program provides a wonderful opportunity for young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to form friendships, learn rugby league and most of all have fun. Sport is a powerful tool to unite communities.” Mr Lee said.
The NSWRL will continue the program in 2020 in locations throughout Sydney including Blacktown, Revesby, Hurstville and Chatswood, as well as Coffs Harbour in regional NSW.
“The NSWRL is very grateful to the NSW Government and in particular to the acting NSW Minister for Sport and Multiculturalism, the Hon. Geoff Lee, for pledging their support to this program over the next four years,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.
“The substantial funding support will enable this grassroots initiative to be further developed and implemented in a sustainable program that could have far-reaching benefits for the children and their parents that go beyond the football field.
“We can only hope to be successful if we are relevant to every section of our community and every section of our community feels welcome in Rugby League.”