The Melbourne Rebels celebrated NAIDOC Week 2022 with its Victorian rugby community yesterday, taking part in Rugby Victoria’s All Nations Holiday Clinic held at the Moorabbin Rugby Club.
Through the game of rugby, the clinic sought to promote inclusivity and connection, delivering education on cultural awareness and an understanding of First Nations cultural history, while also providing the opportunity to make new friends and lasting memories.
With over one-hundred people in attendance, the day kicked-off with a powerful Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony led by Elder Djarrin Wilson from Culture Dance.
Following this, the rugby fun and games got underway as Melbourne Rebels Super W duo Allyssa Lolesio Pua and Meretiana Robinson, and homegrown Rebels Josh Canham and Jordan Uelese, were put through their paces by the next generation of local rugby stars.
Rugby Victoria Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Michael Tauai, said it was fantastic to have the Rebels supporting the next generation and promoting the importance of inclusivity.
“It was great to have such a special day put together by the Melbourne Rebels and Rugby Victoria,” said Tauai.
“Just having their players here meant so much to the kids, giving them some trajectory of where they can take their rugby journey.
“Having Josh and Jordan interact with every child and explain the pathway they’ve taken to become a Melbourne Rebel, it was so beneficial for them.
“Jordy being a part of the Pasifika community and Josh, who’s a homegrown Rebel and someone that's played alongside Pasifika and Aboriginal players, both guys spoke really well on how all cultures can come together and represent one team and one nation.
“Having them here today was a great help.”
Reflecting on his journey through the ranks, Rebel Jordan Uelese revealed what he believes makes the Victorian rugby community just so special.
“I’ve been so grateful to play my junior footy here,” said Uelese.
“A great thing about growing up in Victoria and playing for Rugby Vic is that it’s such a niche community in an AFL-dominated world.
“If you look around from left to right, you all play for different Clubs, but you all unite here today for the one goal – playing rugby and playing rugby as community.
“Growing up playing rugby here in Victoria, you get to make friends with people from all different cultures and backgrounds and that’s so special.
“I’ve got mates from Under-12’s that I’m still good friends with today.
“The comradery, the enjoyment and getting to make new friends is why you play the game in the first place, so I’m pretty grateful to have grown up where I have.”
The Melbourne Rebels would like to thank platnium partner ICS Service Solutions and the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation for supporting the special day.