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True Blues Paul Gallen, Josh Morris and Keith Galloway are helping the North Macedonia Rugby League team make an impact in this weekend’s NSWRL Harmony Nines.

The multicultural Rugby League event will be held at the Croome Road Sporting Complex, Albion Park, south of Wollongong on Saturday 29 October.

It is making its return to the NSWRL calendar after a four-year absence, and for the first time is being held in a regional area.

North Macedonia is making its debut this year, which seems highly appropriate since a large Macedonian population lives in the Windang-Wollongong area.

“I reckon most of Wollongong is Macedonians – biggest population outside Macedonia,” team spokesman Oliver Joseski said.

“The Port Kembla steel works guaranteed them work so they all migrated here, but when they closed down, they stayed.”

And now their descendants intend to leave an impression on the football field.

They have enlisted the help of 2016 NRL premiership-winning Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, along with NSW Blues and former Test players, Gallen, Morris and Galloway.

“We’re all close mates…. they all said they’d be happy to get behind us and coach us,” Joseski said.

“Mark Levy (2GB commentator) is our president, so we’ve got a great crew.”

Competition is for Under 16 boys, Under 18 girls, senior men’s and women’s divisions, plus a social League Tag category. There are 45 teams from 10 countries representing Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Pacific.

North Macedonia is only fielding a team in the men’s competition this year, but there are plans for the 2023 tournament to have an Under 16s boys and open women’s sides.

Soccer might be the main football code back in Macedonia, but Joseski explains why that doesn’t apply here.

“The tougher lot of Macedonians are in Australia, we’re all Rugby League supporters,” he joked.

“Most of us blokes growing up, this is how we assimilated into Australian society – our mums and dads didn’t speak much English.

“But we got into Rugby League and by playing it we formed friends for life. We learnt the language and culture of Australia while never forgetting the heritage and customs of home.”

The North Macedonia Rugby League is a registered, not-for-profit sporting group in NSW, and are awaiting international recognition from the IRL (International Rugby League).

Heritage Rugby League NSW President Javed Hamidi said: “The Harmony Nines will be culmination of a special return to football for many heritage clubs in NSW.

“It will celebrate culture and diversity through Rugby League, while focusing on development, as well as providing a fun festival atmosphere for all participants, their families and communities.”

The Harmony 9s Festival of Rugby League is proudly supported by a $100,000 grant through the NSW Government’s Regional Events Acceleration Fund, which aims to support the social and economic recovery and prosperity of Regional NSW.



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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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