Young Person of the Year
The Young Person of the Year Award is presented to a young person (12 – 24) who has participated in an NRL Community or NRL Club Program and contributed to their community through Rugby League – either through encouraging others to participate or by using rugby league as a vehicle to raise awareness with regards to societal issues.
The 2019 Young Person of the Year Award is proudly supported by Statim Yaga - a Hutchinson Builders initiative.
This year's winner
Holly Summers (Gold Coast Titans - NRL School to Work) from Pacific Pines State High School.
Bright future predicted for up-and-coming leader
This year's finalists
Cooper Ford, Broncos (Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy)
An empowering young role model who has been part of the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy throughout her high-school years. Cooper overcame significant adversity and used this as a tool to motivate and inspire her peers. Cooper has initiated a student-led care group which consisted of weekly meetings with at-risk female indigenous students. Cooper was nominated for the role of Alexandra Hills State High School Indigenous Mentor and has participated in the Brisbane Broncos Inspiring Female Leader’s Boardroom Lunch.
Caitlyn Joseph, Bulldogs (NRL School to Work)
Involved in the School to Work since year 11, Caitlyn has been able to complete her HSC at Bethlehem College Ashfield and encourage friends and fellow classmates to take part in the employment and education program. Caitlyn is deeply involved in the school’s Indigenous programs, such as performing a cultural dance at this year’s Vivid event in Sydney.
Tahni Anger, Dragons (NRL School to Work)
One of the most engaged students in the Dragon’s School to Work program, Tahni encourages other students to get involved and participates to the fullest, never passing up an opportunity to further her employment and education aspirations and further explore her Indigenous culture. Tahni is a leader among her peers, she has been part of the Lake Illawarra High School Student Representative Council since year 8 and is a strong voice for other students.
Ameena Kanj, Eels (NRL School to Work)
Year 11 student, Ameena, is a committed participant in the Eels’ School to Work program, engaging in every opportunity on offer. Ameena successfully tackles time-constraints to balance school-life at Westfield Sports High School with her goal to become a top-level athlete. Ameena is a vocal role model for fellow Indigenous students and has represented both NSW and Australia in Oz Tag.
Caitlan Johnston, Knights (NRL School to Work)
The youngest player in the 2019 Indigenous All Stars Women’s team, inaugural Nat Dwyer medalist for the NSW State of Origin Under 18s, and captain of the Newcastle Knights Tarsha Gale team - Caitlan’s on-field exploits have grabbed the headlines so far in her short career, but her off-field efforts are just as impressive. The rising star has stayed committed to her education at Belmont High School through the NRL’s School to Work program and begun exploring opportunities outside of school to broaden her skills. Caitlan volunteers at Uniting Preschool Adamstown Heights twice a week, planning cultural experiences for the children, and is president of her school’s Junior Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.
Shaylee Bent, Panthers (NRL School to Work)
Recently graduated from Glenmore Park High School, Shaylee successfully transitioned into full-time employment at Link Up NSW whilst studying for a bachelor’s degree in Primary Studies. Not content to stop there, the 18-year-old Indigenous All Stars representative trains three times a week and plays each weekend. Shaylee was proud to represent her family at AAMI Park this year, seeing it as an extension of her efforts, through the School to Work program, to positively promote her culture. Shaylee participated in numerous presentations, events, panels and performances while completing her studies.
Riley Weatherall, Roosters (NRL School to Work)
Riley is heavily involved in rugby league on the Central Coast, refereeing and coaching at a junior level as well as representing his school-side and encouraging others to do the same. Riley is proud of his Indigenous culture and is in the process of helping organise a team to take part in this year’s Koori Knockout. Away from the field, Riley was selected to take part in the Central Coast Aboriginal Youth Advocate Program and, through his successes with the Rooster’s School to Work program, was chosen to represent the club at this year’s NRL All Stars Youth Summit. While there, he was recognised by his peers, business representatives, and figures from across the game to be the Male Youth Ambassador for the summit.
Kirralee Smith, Sharks (NRL School to Work)
In 2019, Kirralee became the first ever Indigenous school captain of Kirrawee High School and has spent the last six months exceeding expectations and raising standards as a school leader. A dedicated participant in the Sharks’ School to Work program, Kirralee represented the Sharks at the NRL All Stars Youth Summit and has worked closely with her Project Officer to set and surpass her goals. Through the program, Kirralee had completed a business traineeship with Qantas as well as attending the UNSWE Nura Gili Winter School to further her goals of studying aviation engineering next year.
Tyreece Lyons, Rabbitohs (Nanga Mai Marri Program)
Tyreece joined the Rabbitohs’ Naga Mai Marri program two years ago and, ever since, has developed into an active participant and strong role model for fellow Indigenous students in his school and wider community. Tyreece is always the first to attend extra-curricular activities through the program and is passionate about supporting his peers to make positive choices in education, health and wellbeing. A passionate rugby league fan, Tyreece has played for La Perouse United Football Club since he was five-years-old and, as recognition of his achievements, was selected to take part in the Rabbitohs’ official team photo for the 2019 season.
Ky-ya Ward, Storm (NRL School to Work)
Since joining the Storm’s School to Work program 14 months ago, Ky-ya has immersed herself in as many workshops, camps and activities as possible. Ky-ya was selected to represent the Storm at this year’s NRL All Stars Youth Summit and was acknowledged for her enthusiasm and positivity throughout. Outside of school, Ky-ya is part of the Djirri Djirri Dance Group and has performed at AAMI Park ahead of both the All Stars Game and Storm’s ANZAC Day Game. A proud Wurundjeri girl, at just 16, Ky-ya is already inspiring her peers through her achievements.
Rachel Arthur, Tigers (NRL School to Work)
While part of the NRL School to Work program, Rachel put her hand-up for every opportunity that came her way – completing two TAFE qualifications and a school-based traineeship, as well as successfully completing her HSC studies. Now graduated from high-school, Rachel is studying to become a nurse through Western Sydney University. Undoubtedly a high-achiever, Rachel is a mentor for the AIME Program and is heavily involved with the Tigers community-based activities as well as volunteering at East Campbelltown and Campbelltown City Junior Rugby League Clubs.