Sixty-eight kids from across Australia and New Zealand gathered at League Central on Wednesday to learn how to become leaders of the future.
The Indigenous Youth Summit, part of the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League, was a chance for the youngsters to get the opportunity to take part in various cultural and leadership workshops.
The week-long summit is being run by Mirri Mirri, an organisation designed to help all Australians improve their knowledge and awareness of indigenous culture, and up-skill youth so they are able to take advantage of opportunities that come their way after school.
Paul Sinclair, the Youth Summit facilitator, told NRL.com the workshops were about cultural celebration, education and rugby league.
“Throughout the week they run through a number of workshops which develops them in the areas of their cultural knowledge, leadership, education and basically aspiring to be better young leaders in their communities for their families,” he said.
“This is a very essential part of the overall festival. The main reasons we have festivals is to instil a sense of pride in our culture and our people, and a lot of these young people are the future of that.
“Some of these young kids aren’t strong in their Aboriginality, they are living a little bit isolated so to immerse them in experiences like this is very important.”
Many Indigenous NRL players will speak to the members of the summit later this week. Former NRL prop George Rose welcomed them on Wednesday with some words of wisdom he had gained over the years on and off the field.
“First and foremost they met George Rose, he was humorous. He came down and said a couple of wonderful messages to them and welcomed them all into the camp,” Sinclair said.
“They will also get to rub shoulders with people like Bevan French, Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis. Hopefully they get an opportunity to talk about some of the goals these people set in their lives to get to where they are today.”
Sinclair, who has been involved in facilitating the annual Youth Summit since 2012, said the simple things always mean the most to him at these camps.
“The thing I most enjoy about the summit is, it doesn’t come around often but it’s the rare moments you get to sit one on one with a young person and just hear a little bit about their life, their story, how much this summit means to them and the changes that have occurred throughout the week for them,” he said.
“I really hope that through the interactions with each other, the workshops and the people they are exposed to that they aspire to go on and achieve things they think they couldn’t do prior.”