Western Sydney’s local community turned out in full force this weekend to celebrate the nation’s cultural diversity taking part in the festivities of the NRL Harmony Day hosted by NRL Ambassador Hazem El Masri at Parry Park, Punchbowl.
NRL Chief Executive Dave Smith, the Hon Senator Kate Lundy Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister For Environment and member for Watson the Hon Tony Burke, officially opened by the day which spiralled into a festival of colour with over 2500 people coming together to share their love of Rugby League as one community.
“Looking out at this group today, there is only one man who could bring such a community together like this and that is Hazem El Masri,” Minister and Local Member for Watson, Tony Burke said.
“His love of his community and tireless work is well recognised and we cannot thank him enough for the positive impact he has on this area.”
Toddlers and their fathers took to the ground for their first ‘Come and Try’ sessions, recently graduated ‘In Harmony and League’ program students from Cabramatta High School revelled in showing off their new footy skills and meeting NRL Chief Executive Dave Smith, while the action in the main League Tag competition can only be described as intense.
At final siren in the League Tag Competition it was team ‘Homebush’ from Homebush who took out the inaugural Harmony Cup beating the ‘Titans’ also from Homebush in the grand final 8-3.
Rugby League was on the menu right across the day with Canterbury Council and Bankstown Council playing for their honour with Bankstown winning the local crown.
Luke Patten’s ‘Bulldogs Legends’ proved too tough for the ‘NRL Ambassadors’ even with a stacked side including Rhys Wesser, super-heroes and NRL Development Officers.
Fire Brigades NSW proved too strong winning over NSW Ambulance Services in the Emergency Services exhibition match.
Batman and Robin took time out to enjoy the day along with League greats Steve Mortimer, Rhys Wesser and Mick Vella and Bulldogs stars Josh Reynolds, Drury Lowe and recently retired Steve Turner were proved incredibly popular amongst everyone.
Across the park families enjoyed a multicultural feast from local stall holders and children revelled in the petting zoo and amusement rides.
“To see our NRL Harmony Day event come together has been incredibly rewarding,” NRL General Manager tor Community, Culture and Diversity Trish Crew said.
“To have so many people from so many different cultures in one space enjoy our great game to me signals the success of this event and we are truly excited about making these celebrations bigger and better in the years to come.”