Indigenous All Stars - more than just a footy match
When the Indigenous All Stars run on to Skilled Park tomorrow night it won’t be just another game of football.
The game has been sold out for months and has been a dream of Indigenous league players and Indigenous people for decades.
For the indigenous players it’s about more than just rugby league – it’s a chance to represent and pay tribute to their communities and people. The game is a celebration of indigenous culture and has great symbolism, but equally important will be the profound effect it has on Indigenous youth.
The team of league’s best indigenous players have pledged themselves to supporting youngsters to stay in school and get an education.
Gold Coast Titan and All Star playmaker Scott Prince is leading the campaign and is a fantastic example. Prince grew up in Mount Isa and left the Western Queensland town after completing Year 10. He was lucky enough to get a scholarship with the North Queensland Cowboys and moved to Townsville.
Prince says he stayed on at school because of his love of rugby league. And even though he’s now one of the country’s most talented footballers he admits finishing year 12 was one of the best decisions of his life.
Education is something he’s passionate about and now he wants to inspire more young Indigenous Australians to follow his lead. The importance of education is clear. Completing year 12 and going on to an apprenticeship, TAFE course or university gives you the best chance to get a job.
And there is no doubt that the most important way of fighting poverty and social disadvantage in Indigenous communities is employment.
All of us grow up learning about life from the people around us. Our family, our friends and our teachers all help to motivate us and shape our lives. In some disadvantaged areas indigenous children don’t have these examples, living in families and communities where work is scarce and many of their parents, siblings and friends haven’t finished school.
To drive the change and break the cycle of unemployment we need to build positive role models and mentors – that’s where the Indigenous All Stars can play a role.
Sport is a part of the Indigenous culture. In Indigenous communities sportsmen and women are worshipped and respected.
Rugby League has the potential to make great inroads because its great following in NSW and Queensland, where almost 60 per cent of Indigenous people live.
The Australian Government has formed a three-year partnership with the NRL and Indigenous All Stars, promoting the message “Learn. Earn. Legend!”.
The slogan is emblazoned on the players’ jerseys and will feature in a three-year campaign in Indigenous communities and schools.
Scott Prince is the first “Learn. Earn. Legend!” Ambassador and will work with the Government on the campaign.
Indigenous All Stars’ Captain Preston Campbell summed up the campaign perfectly when he said: “I am so proud that we are wearing the “Learn. Earn. Legend!” logo on our jersey to teach our kids to make the right choices.
“To stay at school and learn.
“To find a job or career to enable them to live their dreams. And through living their dreams to become a legend for the next generation.
“That is the special spirit all the boys will take onto the field when we play.”
It’s a simple message of change and hope. It’s a small part of the solution, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.
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