A northern NSW Junior Club has picked up two awards as part of the NAIDOC week of celebrations hosted by the Richmond Valley Council.
The Casino RSM Cougars JRLFC, established in 1976, has won both the Reconciliation in Sport – Club Honour; and the Reconciliation in Sport – Individual Award, for former player Lincoln Close, who has now joined the referee ranks.
The awards were handed out at the Council’s ‘Black & White Reconciliation Ball’ in recognition of the work done by the Cougars in bringing everyone together to play at club which prides itself on a fun and safe environment.
The Cougars were nominated by local Trudy Lamont.
“The Cougars Junior Rugby League strive to build a sense of unity and inclusivity for its players, their families and supporters alike, and hope to contribute to positive and lasting change towards inclusivity in the community,” Ms Lamont said.
The NSWRL congratulated the Cougars for their awards.
"It’s a fantastic accolade for the club who are doing some fantastic things for their community," said NSWRL Head of Football, Robert Lowrie.
"We know how tough it can be out in regional Australia, so this is a wonderful recognition for a great group of people."
The club has been making leaps and bounds in 2021 with its highest participation numbers in its 45-year history - 330 registered juniors.
Those numbers make the Cougars the largest junior club in Northern NSW. Of the registered players 35% identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander while an additional 20% of registered players are female.
In a statement the Casino RSM Cougars JRLFC said members were proud of what they were creating in the northern rivers area.
“The club values the fact that anyone can walk through that gate and feel like they belong,” the statement said.
“Let's make sure the Cougars continue to lead the way.”