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Roosters Embrace Multiculturalism

Sydney Roosters are proud to celebrate the NRL's Multicultural Round this week, honouring the numerous cultures represented by both players and staff, whose contributions have made the Club what it is today. 

As one of the most culturally diverse clubs in the league, the Roosters are honoured to celebrate the players and staff who represent more than 15 cultural backgrounds, this week and every week, for the work they continue to do for the game and it’s greater community.

The round’s central message is ‘Stronger Together’ – recognising, respecting and celebrating diverse cultural heritage at all levels of the game.

Over the past fortnight, the Roosters playing squad have exchanged cultural stories, ideas and identities in a safe group setting with the NRL’s Player Engagement and Pasifika Manager, David Solomona and the managing director of Talanoa Consultancy, Dr. David Lakisa.

Roosters Partake in Talanoa Dialogue

The group heard from Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii, who recounted his experience returning to Samoa following the Rugby League World Cup, to realise everyone in the country knew who he was and respected him for his efforts.

James Tedesco reflected on his cultural journey, explaining that he connects to his Italian roots through food, while the squad also heard from Vutate Karawalevu, who spoke about his experience from growing up playing rugby with plastic bottle on a grass patch in Fiji, to now, playing for the Roosters.

The Red, White and Blue proudly represented seven different nations at the Rugby League World Cup, with players selected for the Australian, New Zealand, Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, Irish and English national teams.

Vuate Karawalevu chats to Elie El-Zakhem about his cultural heritage.
Vuate Karawalevu chats to Elie El-Zakhem about his cultural heritage.

Head Coach Trent Robinson said that having numerous players and staff from a variety of backgrounds is an asset to the Club’s culture.

“It’s a really good round to have that, the diversity in our competition and in our club is really important,” he said.

“Being able to express [different cultural experiences] on weeks like this has been important, but then also being able to express that throughout the year so that everyone feels welcome, is part of our life here.”

Trent Robinson Media | Roosters vs Rabbitohs

Sydney Roosters Athlete Wellbeing and Education Manager Damon Spooner said the Club works to connect the cultures of all athletes and staff from Pasifika to European backgrounds, to ensure that the environment is a safe and welcoming space for everyone.

“There have been many people from different cultural backgrounds that have worn the Tricolours jersey since 1908,” he said.

“It’s important for us to highlight those players that take the field but also the people that won’t be out there on Friday, both athletes and staff past and present, and recognise that every person has represented the Club with the common goal of making it a better place.”

In the NRL, players represent 63 different national heritages, with almost a third of players (29%) born outside Australia and half (51%) having at least one parent born overseas. Forty-five percent of players identify as Pasifika, while ten percent identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

“We’ve worked really hard to make sure this Club recognises everyone inclusively, no matter what colour you are, what shape you are, what size you are and your background, you’re taken from that point moving forward,” Spooner said.

“When a player is comfortable with who they are and their identity, that leads to a better performance on the field.”

This week the Sydney Roosters also welcome Waverley College Pasifika Group to our Community Corner initiative.

The organisation aims to empower, educate and create spaces for Pasifika students to share their stories and culture in a constructive, safe and nurturing space. With a heavy focus on cultural pride, cultural inclusion and multicultural values, the group allows students to feel connected to culture and celebrate each other, learning from Pasifika role models in the process.

It's not too late to secure your tickets for our Multicultural Round blockbuster, get yours now! The National Rugby League is encouraging every member of the community to bring a flag or wear their cultural dress or colours to games.

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour 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.