It's deeper than just footy
The New South Wales Under-16s Indigenous Young Achievers side will meet with the West Coast Pirates in front of a packed NIB Stadium in Perth this Saturday as part of the curtain raiser to the NRL match between the Rabbitohs and Warriors.
For most of these indigenous kids, getting on a plane and travelling to the other side of the country is a thrill in itself, but to get the chance to represent their people against the Western Australian side is one they’ll cherish forever.
For halfback Jordan Allan, “It’s deeper than just footy. We’re all so proud to represent our culture, our family, where we come from and really, it’s a big honour.”
Dubbed the fastest thing on two legs by the coaching staff, Allan has found his feet in camp alongside his new teammates.
“It’s been awesome to be honest. It’s only been a couple of days but already all the boys have had heaps of fun.” Allan said.
Indigenous Young Achievers coach and former Western Suburbs Magpies player, Ian Naden, believes visits similar to the five-day camp in Perth will provide these kids with the right pathway into the NRL.
“It’s one of the mot rewarding things you’ll do. I never had this sort of thing when I was younger, and for them to have the opportunity to show their skills is really exciting,” Naden said.
“To me, being a young Aboriginal boy, they have to fight for everything that they want to achieve. To come over here, to play for their people, their state and each other, means the world to them.
“They are a very polite and respectful group of kids and they want to do their local communities and NSW proud.”
Growing up in Dubbo, NSW, Naden played 30 games for Western Suburbs between 1986-87. His support is invaluable to young Indigenous talent, who all idolise the likes of NRL stars Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston.
“These boys want to strive to be like them and they see this as a stepping stone to get to that point in their life,” Naden said.
“They are kids who want to make a better life for themselves and their families. By coming over here and showing their leadership qualities, they will all be positive role models in years to come.
“Their parents are over the moon. For their kids to get the opportunity to represent their people is a great inspiration to not only the kids but also the wider community of where they come from. At the moment they are doing their parents proud.”
New South Wales Under-16s Indigenous Young Achievers side
1. Blake Roberts
2. Jordan Allan
3. Leeroy Brown
4. Jack Carney
5. Ezekiel Phillips
6. Warren Baxter
7. Josh Cook
8. Nunka Pearce
9. Luke Rosethorne
10. Percy Cubby
11. Tyran Petit-Young
12. Dallas Gundy-Clarke
13. Tristan Scott
14. Mitchell Milgate
15. Mitchell Toomey
16. Isaiah Smith
17. Jaylen Robb
18. Reece Haines
19. Kieran Mundine