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Widders: The NRL has been a game-changer for Indigenous people

Parramatta Eels’ NRLW Coach Dean Widders has been honoured with the NRL team’s 2022 Indigenous jersey at a moving session with the playing squad.

Widders visited the group at Eels HQ to talk about the importance of Indigenous Round and why it’s so important to him as a proud Anaiwan man.

“The reason we celebrate Indigenous Round is to celebrate the impact Indigenous players have had on the game and also to recognise the difference the game makes in Indigenous communities,” Widders said.

“The game has always been a bit of a game-changer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said.

Widders opens up on what Indigenous Round means to him

Widders re-joined his old Club as Head Coach of the inaugural Eels’ NRLW team in 2021.

NRL Co-Captain Junior Paulo presented him with this year’s Indigenous jersey as a mark of respect for the impact he has had on the game.

The Parramatta Eels will donate $10 from every jersey sold to Father Chris Riley’s Aboriginal community outreach program supporting Aboriginal young people.

The jersey was designed by contemporary Aboriginal artist Sean Kinchela and is inspired by the Burramattagal People; the local clan known to have settled into Parramatta. 

“You’ve been a big part of the history of this Club,” Paulo said.

“You’ve been able to give back to us the cultural knowledge of this Round and the importance of it.

“What you’re doing is outstanding; being able to give back to the game you enjoyed playing,” he said.

Widders pointed to how far the game has come in recognising the contribution of Indigenous people.

“Artie Beetson (former Eel) was an Aboriginal man, captaining the country, leading the country and all the fans were behind him, but still Aboriginal people weren’t even recognised as citizens around the same time,” Widders said.

“The game is a significant game-changer for our people.

“It’s always been a way of creating social change and community change for Aboriginal people well ahead of the rest of society,” he said.

The Eels will face the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium in Round 12 on Sunday 29th May at 4:05pm.

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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