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Paulo: It’s the reason I am who I am today

Almost 40 kilometres down the M7 from Eels HQ, Junior Paulo was welcomed back to his old stomping ground at Cabramatta Rugby League Club.

The same grandstand where his family cheered from is still intact.

As are the brick change rooms Paulo ran out of as a five-year-old.

There’s not much to the small suburban ground, but one thing is for sure.

It still holds a big place in Paulo’s heart.

“It’s actually emotional being able to come back here. It’s the reason why I am who I am today, it helped shape who I am as a person,” Paulo said.

“Just across there is where I had my first ever training session for under 6s, but I was only five years old at the time.

“This is where it all started for myself and it’s definitely good to be back,” he said.

Back to where it all began for Junior Paulo

From humble beginnings came one of the NRL’s biggest names today.

“It was a couple of train rides and a long walk from the station but it was always fun walking down with your mates when you know you are coming to footy training,” Paulo said.

“I think the foundations of junior footy help instil a lot of life lessons along the way and certainly paved the way for a lot of us who grew up in surrounding areas,” he said.

In a nod to the area’s Rugby League hero, a freshly painted Junior Paulo mural is now front and centre on the grandstand wall, thanks to Taubmans.

The initiative is part of Taubmans’ Footy Club Rescue campaign where they provide paint & resources to assist with Clubs in making their facilities look fresher.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Paulo said.

“It’s just one of those moments where you go ‘mum, we made it!’ … there’s a mural painted of me now so yeah it’s exciting and also being at my junior club where I grew up loving Rugby League,” he said.

The gesture isn’t lost on Paulo who grew up with not much apart from the mentality to chase his dreams.

“I’m very fortunate to be in this position that I am in,” Paulo said.

“We never had much when we were growing up or had many role models to look up to, so when you come back to a club like this you want to pave that way and certainly inspire the youth to chase whatever dreams they have.

“It’s always about daring to dream whatever it may be, you don’t take no for an answer from anyone,” he said.

Paulo brought along his mini me son Mario for the mural unveiling and hopes he is just as inspired by his journey to the NRL as other local youngsters.

“I hope footy gives him a sense of striving for the hard work and what it takes to be an NRL player,” Paulo said.

“Whatever he wants to do in life, I’m happy for him to do.”

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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