Black to the Future
The South Sydney Rabbitohs are hurtling into the future, boasting a bevy of black stars and a new partnership with NASCA.
The South Sydney football club has long enjoyed a strong connection with the Indigenous community in Sydney and beyond. The club has always been a place of opportunity for young Aboriginal footballers and in turn, many of these players have gone on to become champions of the South Sydney cause.
This tradition has continued into the modern era, with young Indigenous stars such as Nathan Merritt, Yileen Gordon and Joe Williams filling the Rabbitohs’ ranks. In fact, a total of seven Aboriginal players have seen first grade action with the Bunnies this season.
For these young players, their greatest achievement of all has been the inspiration that their success has provide d t he young fellas back home in their communities.
When a young Nathan Merritt was growing up in Waterloo, he aspire d t o be like his grandfather Eric Robinson who played for the Rabbitohs in the 1960’s, and now many more Indigenous kids from the South’s district and beyond dream of repeating Nathan’s own try scoring heroics of 2006.
Building on this great tradition, the Rabbitohs recently announced a new partnership with NASCA (National Aboriginal Sports Corporation with Australia) with the aim of supporting each other in Indigenous community programs.
“Souths strongly supports athletes as role models, regardless of race, but with particular focus on assisting communities with a high percentage of Indigenous people,” says Rabbitohs Executive Chairman Peter Holmes a Court.
“Souths has a long history of Indigenous players, including the current crop of stars, including David Peachey an d t he NRL’s leading try scorer Nathan Merritt. Next year Dean Widders joins the club and will work to strengthen this initiative and lead as a role model for other NRL players an d t he youth of Australia alike.”
The Rabbitohs will now support NASCA by providing athletes and resources to work within community development programs across the South Sydney area and other identified communities across the country.
As a result of the partnership, many Indigenous youth will gain access to a wide range of programs and activities designed to help them finish school and to influence them in making positive life choices. Souths players will also serve as role models, teachers and mentors within the communities.
“The partnership announce d t oday between NASCA an d t he South Sydney Football Club provides an amazing opportunity for the youth of the South Sydney area,” says Paul Conlon, general manager of NASCA..
“It also provides a great vehicle for both NASCA and Souths to engage the community in a very meaningful way.”
The announcement of the partnership is great news for South Sydney, in what has been a tumultuous year of great change. With Dean Widders signing for 2007, the Rabbitohs are set to boast the highest number of Aboriginal players of any NRL side next year, and it’s great to see that the “Indigenous connection” will continue play a leading role in the next chapter of the Rabbitohs’ proud history.