NZRL – league changing young lives
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 10:19a.m.
By Sam Ackerman
The National Secondary Schools Rugby League Tournament comes to an end in South Auckland today.
But crowning a champion won't be the most important thing to the NZRL. The organisation is using the event as an initiative to breed not just athletes but better people.
Rugby league's a sport not for the faint hearted. It’s physical – aggressive even - but also built on one ideal.
“Play hard and fair on the field and after the game we are all mates again so that's pretty good about the game,” says Sisa Manu of Tokoroa High School.
The most important elements of this week’s tournament are off the field.
The NZRL puts schools through a leadership module where they face more than just team building exercises.
Vic Tamati is the public face of the anti-family violence campaign, ‘It's Not OK’, and delivered its confronting message to the players.
“It's been normal all their life and now that it's been explained to them that it's not normal they don't know how to deal with it, some of them in the groups had their heads bowed, others were crying, others were laughing. It was just there way of coping,” says Tamati.
His story is encouraging some brave responses.
“To be honest, some of that stuff happened to me, rugby league was just something to turn on to,” explains Peter Letoga.
“It’s pretty hard, it affects school life as well, but having someone that's been through it and know what it's like helps you out,” says Morgan Salesi, Southern Cross Campus.
Rather than just listen, players like Tokoroa’s Letoga and Manu, as well as Norman Fuiava and Salelesi from Southern Cross Campus, were sent to spread the word - respect and fairplay - to intermediate schools.
The players also had help from NRL heroes like former Kiwis star Nigel Vagana, now a welfare officer for the NRL.
“Part of rugby league this year what we want to do it target violence and we want to make sure players have a chance to help out and give back and I guess stand up against these issues and it makes a better place out here for these kids,” says Vagana.
While there were plenty of fun and games to help encourage the fair-play mantra, the message they were there to deliver found its mark.
“They were just teaching us to become future leaders and it's not okay to use family violence to communicate in your home,” says Leeza Travers of Manurewa Intermediate.
Schoolchildren are told right from wrong all the time but hearing it from your peers makes more impact.
They weren't the only ones taking lessons out of the experience.
“I kinda did some bullying back in primary. I look at it now and regret it, because it's not good. It's never good,” explains Fuiava.
Understanding that a role model is more than just being good at sport has hit home for this quartet.
“Saw a lot of potential out there with you guys - mean school - can't wait to see youse when you grow up eh,” says Letoga.
Their self confidence and belief has and is growing in leaps and bounds.
“Yeah, I was pretty nervous in the beginning. I just didn't know how the kids would react to what I was saying or if they were listening to me but at the end man they all listened and contributed... felt great,” says Salelesi.
“I have heaps of goals now to set, to accomplish,” says Fuiava.
And when asked if he had goals before, Fuiava acknowledges the change.
“Nah, not really. It was pretty much play league and try (to) make it to the reps and stuff. Now there's more than that - off the feild and on the field,” says Fuiava.
The NZRL’s creed is "More than just a game" - it's been just that for these young men this week.
Watch the video for the full report.
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10/09/2012 2:46:02 p.m.
mereana waitoa wrote:
congrats boys:) from southern cross you guys play hard even thou. you didnt make it you guys still played good xhaha im a SOUTHERN CROSS SUPPORTER
10/09/2012 2:38:52 p.m.
shontelle maxwell wrote:
ts boys mean watching my boyfriend
7/09/2012 6:37:10 p.m.
Lisi Fuiava wrote:
Well done Brother :)
7/09/2012 4:55:33 p.m.
Nora Phillips wrote:
Very proud of you Norman. It's not ok!
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